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Thousands of nurses picket outside of metro-area hospitals

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Nurses picket
Nurses held an informational picket of Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis on Thursday, May 6, 2010.
MPR Photo/Lorna Benson

Thousands of nurses held informational pickets Thursday outside Abbott Northwestern and Children's hospitals in Minneapolis, and Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids. 

The nurses are in the midst of negotiating a new three-year contract that expires May 31st. 

Nurse Laurie Bahr of St. Louis Park works in the intensive care unit at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. She says better nurse-to-patient staffing is the number one priority for nurses.

"We want to have a voice in the care that we deliver every single day to people," Bahr said. "It's about us being able to actually give the care, to have enough nurses for people that walk through the door to get the care they deserve."

A spokeswoman for Twin Cities Hospitals says patient safety is not an area of concern. 

Trish Dougherty says hospitals are heavily regulated, and Minnesota hospitals rate among the top three states in the nation for the quality of care that patients receive.

Nurses are scheduled to vote May 19 on whether to ratify a new contract or go on strike.

Nurse Eric Tronnes picketed outside Abbott Northwestern. He says nurses are united in their demand for better nurse-to-patient staffing ratios.

"We're out here trying to get them take what we have to say seriously," he said. "It's getting to a point on the floor where it's getting kind of dangerous to provide the care that we really want to as nurses, that we know that we can give, but we're just not getting the tools and the resources that we need to be able to do our job."

Next week, nurses plan to demonstrate at hospitals in St. Paul and Edina.