BARSTOW Amid stalled labor negotiations and with concerns including nurse-to-patient ratios and mandatory overtime, registered nurses will picket Barstow Community Hospital on Tuesday, according to a National Nurses United (NNU) news release.


The protest is part of a "national day of action," against hospitals affiliated with Community Health Systems (CHS) and will see RNs picketing outside of Fallbrook Hospital in Fallbrook as well.


"With their outrageous behavior, ignoring the democratic vote of the nurses, retaliation and threats against those who provide hands-on care for their patients, and disgraceful dismissal of concerns over widespread patient safety problems," Deborah Burger, co-president of NNU, said in a prepared statement, "these hospitals could be a poster child for lawless behavior."


John Rader, spokesman for CHS-affiliated Barstow Community Hospital, wrote in an email response that the hospital has "tremendous respect for all that (the staff) do" and "we appreciate the dedication of our nurses and all of our caregivers."


"Unfortunately, the California Nurses Association is engaged in an aggressive campaign of rhetoric and misinformation," the statement continued. "Despite these tactics, we remain focused on our patients, and if a demonstration takes place at our hospital (Tuesday), it will not interfere with our ability to provide services for our community."


The California Nurses Association works in conjunction with NNU.


Just last Wednesday night, nurses held a candlelight vigil at St. Joseph Health, St. Mary in Apple Valley, calling for improved nurse staffing throughout the St. Joseph Health System.


Picketing at BCH will occur between 6:30 and 9 a.m. and again from 4 to 7 p.m., according to the news release.


Labor board hearings on alleged "brazen violations of federal law" from CHS-affiliated hospitals are scheduled to take place in April, the news release stated.


Shea Johnson may be reached at (760) 256-4126 or at SJohnson@DesertDispatch.com.


Staff writer Jim E. Winburn contributed to this report.