MARSHALL (KMHL) – Nurses at the Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center are planning to hold an informational picket at the hospital later today.

Nurses say their biggest concerns center around patient safety and staffing levels. One area where many of them are expressing particular concern is in urgent care. Nurses say they are being asked to staff urgent care without proper training to do so.

“The community is not always educated on where they should go with the type of things they’re experiencing,” said Avera  Marshall nurse Arla Pronk. “So when they come to us at times they don’t realize they are probably at the wrong place.”

Pronk says the first few minutes of the assessment by a nurse in urgent care is crucial.

“Deciding whether this patient needs to be here or not, or be in an emergency room,” said Pronk.

Nurses say Avera is offering eight hours of training to handle urgent care, but they don’t feel that’s enough to be able to staff the positions.

“I have had a patient come in that was having stroke symptoms and not more than five minutes later I had another one that had chest pain,” said Avera nurse Malinda Greve Searcy. “How can you put untrained nurses into urgent care and expect our patients to get the quality care that they need and that they deserve? It is not going to happen.”

Nurses concerns on staffing go beyond urgent care too. Amy Dawn, is a medical surgical nurse at Avera, she says staffing levels there have been inconsistent.

“The other night I had patients that needed pain management, but I couldn’t get to them to give them the pain meds they need after having surgery, because I was focused on patient safety of falls,” said Dawn. “You have to prioritize, so when we don’t have the proper staffing it puts something on the side.”

Avera Marshall officials said in an updated statement last night that no one has brought patient safety concerns to them so they could address it.

“We respect our MNA-represented employees’ right to speak out on issues of importance to them. While we disagree with their position in this instance, we will never lose sight of the larger reality that our nurses are skilled professionals who are an essential part of the care we provide,” said Avera. “If they – or any employee – have any safety concerns, we hope they’ll bring them forward to be addressed; to this point, they have not done so. Our patients and visitors can be assured that this informational picket will have no impact on the high-quality care we provide.”

Nurses are planning the picket from 4:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. today.