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Nurses At 6 Hospitals Across California Strike Over Staffing

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS13/AP) - Registered nurses at six California hospitals went on strike Thursday over staffing levels and other issues amid contract negotiations.

Nurses hit the picket lines at 7 a.m. at Kaiser Permanente's Los Angeles Medical Center and at five Sutter Health corporation hospitals in Northern California.

The California Nurses Association said the nurses are calling on hospitals to increase staffing levels and take steps to retain experienced workers. They are also demanding policies that give them a stronger voice in patient care.

Tessie Costales, a registered nurse for 29 years, estimated there were a few hundred marchers outside the Los Angeles medical center.

"Short staffing means high risk for patients' care," said Costales, 59. "They have to correct this problem."

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Kaiser defended its staffing levels in a statement Wednesday, calling the walkout "entirely inappropriate."

To the north, nurses were striking at Sutter Roseville Medical Center, Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital, Sutter Tracy Community Hospital, Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital and Mills-Peninsula Health Services.

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Officials at Kaiser and Sutter said backup workers would be used to make sure there is no interruption in care.

"Each of our impacted hospitals has contracted with an agency that provides licensed, experienced registered nurses to fill in for those who choose to strike," said Dr. Stephen Lockhart, Sutter's chief medical officer.

The nurses association said the strikers will be joined Friday by nurses from Providence's Torrance hospital and Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.

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