Uploaded: Monday, June 12, 2000 2 PM

Nurses' strike causes delays in elective surgeries

Stanford Hospital delayed 12 elective surgery cases Monday morning in response to the ongoing nurses' strike.

Meanwhile, a federal mediator who has been part of the contract talks for the last few months wants to talk to the union on Friday, although no negotiating session has been set.

The hospital also closed its emergency room to ambulance traffic for about a day last week to respond to staffing concerns. But a hospital spokesman stressed that the emergency department's trauma center, a regional facility that handles the most life-threatening accidents and other injury cases, was never shut down, although it's not clear whether any trauma cases happened during that time.

Lucile Packard Children's Hospital had earlier transferred 36 patients to reduce its census, although Stanford Hospital had a normal patient census through Friday, for the first three days of the strike.

About 1,730 nurses went on strike at 7 a.m. last Wednesday after contract talks between the hospitals and the union, the Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement (CRONA), broke down.

The two sides are far apart on salary and other issues. The hospital is offering 8 percent in pay raises over two years, while the union is asking for 21.5 percent in raises over two years.

Each side appeared Monday to be waiting for the other to make the first move.

"We're willing to meet with the nurses," said Felix Barthelemy, vice president for human resources at both hospitals. "They never formally responded to our last offer."

"We're out here striking, that's our response," said Kim Griffin, CRONA spokeswoman. "There's no point in meeting with someone whose position hasn't changed."

Elective surgeries and elective admissions at Packard Hospital have also "been put on hold" since last week, Barthelemy said.

And Stanford Hospital has now made a decision "to slow things down" by postponing a dozen elective surgeries Monday morning, Barthelemy said. "We need to manage the workload. We are holding all of our (staffing) flex for traumas and emergency admissions."

Hospital census figures released Monday afternoon, however, showed that Stanford Hospital had 284 inpatients, not far below a normal census. Packard Hospital had 147 patients. It usually runs close to capacity for its 180 inpatient beds.

Up to 500 replacement nurses have been hired to replace the CRONA nurses.

--Don Kazak