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Nurses Get Drenched During Demonstration, Hospital Warned About Water Use

MODESTO (CBS13 ) — After nurses in Modesto got soaked by sprinklers during a picket in front of Doctors Medical Center, the city of Modesto said it issued a warning for watering on the wrong day.

A video shared with CBS13 shows a large group of nurses picketing outside the hospital Tuesday morning.

They said the demonstration was designed to draw attention to inadequate staffing for nurses which has forced them to work overtime or miss breaks.

"When you have adequate staffing, you're able to have refreshed nurses that are rested, nourished and able to provide optimal care without the reliance of having to call people in for extra shifts," said Krystyne Dickerson, a registered nurse who attended the demonstration.

During the event, nurses said the sprinklers were turned on several times.

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"It kind of created a little bit of an issue with the picket," said registered nurse Shiloh Garcia. "Getting soaked at 7 a.m. isn't fun."

They said the water was left running for about 20 minutes each time and they believed it was a deliberate move to get them to disperse.

"We were cold and wet, but we survived," said Dickerson. "It was just like if it were raining which we were prepared for."

One of the picketers said when they asked the facilities manager to turn the sprinklers off he told them the order came from "way above him" and he couldn't do it.

"We received an anonymous call from someone who was concerned about the water usage," said Modesto City Spokesperson Thomas Reeves.

Reeves said when water crews were sent out to investigate they found the sprinklers never should have been on that day.

"It's watering on the wrong day and so we did issue a notice of violation," he added.

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A warning he said could later result in an official citation and fine if it happens again within 12 months.

The hospital's address ends in an odd number, he said, and according to city policy, even-numbered addresses are only allowed to water on Tuesdays.

"We have two seasons (of enforcement) and so we entered the new season several weeks ago," he said. "There are strict days; three days a week that you are allowed to water and it's the same for a residential unit or a business."

The nurses said the demonstration was part of a "National Day of Action" which included picketing at 14 different hospitals in California, Arizona, Texas and Florida.

More than 3,700 registered nurses represented the California Nurses Association at Tenet hospitals.

"We're advocating for safer staffing ratios and we'd like for the hospital to invest in recruiting and retaining experienced nurses," said Garcia.

She said between 2016 and 2018, a total of about $8 million was paid out because of missed meals and breaks. As for the sprinklers, she said it made for a soggy situation but didn't deter the group from spreading their message.

"Our focus is really to give the best care of our patients. We're very passionate about that," she said.

CBS13 contacted Doctors Medical Center several times for comment and was told the spokesperson was out of the office at a meeting in the Bay Area. Calls to her cell phone were not answered before 7 p.m. on Thursday evening.

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