KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Nurses at Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo are speaking out against an uncertain future.
This comes after they say hospital staff proposed cutting up to 70 nurses last week. While the union representatives say Borgess has since pulled back on that plan, they still want some answers.
Nurses at Borgess tell FOX 17 they're working at a ratio of one nurse for every five patients. They say the proposal to cut 70 nurses would leave each one of them with seven people to care for, a number that they say could have catastrophic effects.
"All the nurses are extremely terrified," said Jamie Brown, president of Borgess Staff Nurses. "We want to be a patient advocate, and we are speaking out against these cuts because we truly believe in patient safety."
Brown says the hospital came to them last Monday proposing to cut 70 nurses, but just days later backed off from that number.
"Those cuts included cutting out our SWAT department -- which is our crisis response nurses that respond to any crisis throughout the hospital -- realigning the ER nurses and having less nurses available for them along with other cuts throughout the hospital on the floors," Brown said.
Ascension Health, Borgess' parent company, is pressuring the hospital to cut nurse staffing to reduce the local budget, Brown said.
"We were shocked, and we requested another meeting right away to figure out how to get to the bottom of this," she said, "and then the management at the hospital backed off of those numbers."
But that doesn't mean change is on the way.
"The SWAT team now is going to be absorbed under the critical care manager, and we are figuring out how, as nurses, we can keep them free and part of the critical care unit at the same time," Brown said. "[Ascension Health is] putting profits over patients' safety."
Borgess Health officials declined an interview on the matter but issued the following statement:
"We continually review staffing models, within the parameters of our collective bargaining agreements, to ensure efficiency of our resources, while providing the highest quality and most compassionate care. At this time, we have no information to share regarding personnel matters."
Brown says there will be a meeting with hospital staff Thursday morning to discuss any potential cuts.
"Every day has been a different story, so I just don't know what to expect from them," she said. "A lot of people are looking for jobs right now because of the safety risk."