AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Jackie Williamson is one of several nurses who protested outside of the Charlie Norwood VA Thursday.
“It’s important to me that Charlie Norwood steps up to the plate and respects the nurses and understands our role and gets more nurses in here,” Williamson said.
The nurses protesting said they are short staffed and working long hours in addition caring for at least six patients each shift.
“It’s very time consuming and then to be able to have time for just a small lunch or to go to the bathroom is difficult because your patients need you every minute of the day,” Williamson said.
They said they are overworked and concerned it may impact the care of their patients.
“You’re tired. You’re exhausted and when that happens it’s not that you want to make an error it just that it improves the chances of an error. That’s not what the nurses want. They want the veterans to have the best care possible and that’s why we’re out here,” Vice President of National Nurses United Irma Westmoreland said.
They want VA leaders to address staff shortages, recruitment and retention problems and patient care.
“We want to be able to retain nurses. We want nurses to have work life balance. We want alternative work schedules so that they can have work life balance,” Westmoreland said.
VA Augusta officials said in a statement:
“One of VA’s top priorities right now is recruiting, hiring, and retaining our great nurses. To do that, VA has advocated strongly for the PACT Act and RAISE Act — both of which have given us increased authority to raise pay caps for VA nurses across the country. We have also maximized bonuses and retention incentives to reward VA nurses.”
Nurses will also be launching an in-person petition drive on Saturday, Sept. 3, at the Augusta Farmers Market.