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For the past 15 years, Iíve been proud to serve the local community as a nurse at Civista Medical Center. My co-workers and I care for our friends, our families and our neighbors at Civista, so being a nurse here is more than just a job. Itís personal.

Thatís why we were so disappointed that Mollie Gieseman, the chairwoman-elect of the Civista Health Foundation, didnít reach out to us personally before writing her recent letter about Civistaís RNs [ďStrike will not affect level of care at hospital,Ē Maryland Independent, April 6].

Had Gieseman gotten in touch with us, we could have explained that safe-staffing standards, not pay raises, have dominated the discussion in our ongoing contract talks with the Civista administration. To learn more about the situation at Civista, go to www.ProtectingCivistaCare.org.

Since starting negotiations in December, dozens of nurses from every unit in the hospital have come to bargaining to offer suggestions about staffing improvements we can make to protect patient care. Weíve also proposed an ambitious labor-management project that would bring a facilitator to Civista to help us and the administration find common ground on challenging staffing issues.

Unfortunately, incendiary letters like the one from Gieseman — who talks wildly about a nonexistent strike and interruption in care — move us away from that common ground.

We have made and will continue to make good-faith efforts to reach agreement with Civista management. We postponed an informational picket scheduled for late March at the request of a federal mediator. He asked us to give the hospital more time to respond to our contract proposals and we agreed. Unfortunately, as of April 9 (when this letter is being written), Civista officials still havenít responded to critical safe-staffing proposals.

Thatís why weíre reaching out to the whole community this weekend with a Rally for Safe Staffing in La Plata. On Saturday, April 14, Civista RNs will be joined by supporters from the community and by union members from across the state who are standing with us in our fight to protect patient care. The rally will be held at the corner of St. Maryís Avenue and Queen Anne Street near the La Plata Town Hall from noon to 2:00 p.m.

My co-workers and I love working at Civista Medical Center and we want to make sure it keeps providing the best possible care for Southern Maryland patients. Thatís why weíre fighting so hard to improve staffing here. Itís time for management to join us.

Gail Kingman, Hughesville

The writer is a registered nurse at Civista Medical Center and a member of 1199SEIU Healthcare Workers East.