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Memorial Hospital nurses going out on strike

Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital nurses on Monday voted to strike today, marking the first impasse in 26 years between the union and the company that runs Sonoma County's only trauma center.

Only four members of the Santa Rosa-based Staff Nurses Association voted against the walkout, which was scheduled to begin at 5 a.m. today and to end at 5 a.m. Thursday.

"There is a huge disconnect between what the hospital insists that it needs and what they're willing to provide in the bedside," said union President Sue Gadbois.

Officials with St. Joseph Sonoma County, which runs Memorial Hospital, has hired hundreds of replacement nurses to keep the hospital open.

Urgent care centers in Windsor and Rohnert Park will close during the two-day walkout. But the urgent care center at Sebastopol Road and Corporate Center Parkway in Santa Rosa will remain open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Patients should expect scheduled appointments and procedures to take place as planned, said Debra Miller, vice president of human resources for St. Joseph Health Sonoma County.

"We will have a fully capable and functioning emergency room for trauma services, regular emergencies and a full surgery schedule," Miller said. "We don't anticipate any interruptions in our care as a result of the strike."

Cuts to overtime, night and oncall pay, coupled with reduced health benefits and greater employee contributions, were some of the factors that led to the vote, Gadbois said.

St. Joseph's rejected the nurses' request for a 10 percent pay increase over two years and instead offered 2 percent, she said.

The Staff Nurses Association has about 660 members; about 580 participated in the vote.

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