“Nurses care for you.”

“Nurses put the care in healthcare.”

“Protect our patients.”

These are just a few of the messages printed on signs that were held up along Fallwood Road in Redwood Falls Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019 as nurses from Carris Health-Redwood held an informational picket.

An informational picket is not a strike, as the nurses who were supposed to work that day did just that.

Rather, the intent behind the picket was to let the community know what is going on as the nurses continue to negotiate a new contract with hospital administration. 

Among those who were out Tuesday was Shawna Hamlin, who has been a nurse at the hospital in Redwood Falls for nearly five years.

Hamlin, who is a member of the nurses negotiations team, said she became a nurse because she wanted to be able to help people.

“I like being there for people when they are the most vulnerable and to help get them back on their feet,” said Hamlin.

Hamlin admitted being on the picket line is not ideal, and in a small town it is not always easy to make that kind of a decision. However, she said the community support that was demonstrated during their informational picket has been very good.

“Today is about our patients,” said Hamlin, “and making sure they are always safe and healthy. We just want to be able to care for them.”

There are more than 30 nurses who would be impacted by the agreement that is currently under discussion. Hamlin said the negotiations have been going on for two years, adding the groups were scheduled to meet again Aug. 22.

Her hope is that the informational picket held Tuesday will help move that process along at a faster rate.

The big issue that is being discussed is about staffing and schedules, said Hamlin, adding that the proposal from the hospital leadership is not safe for patients or for the nurses involved.