Cook County Health nurses strike for 1 day over staffing

Cook County Health nurses went on a one-day strike Thursday outside Stroger Hospital, citing understaffing that impacts patient care.

The hospital was granted a court-ordered injunction ruling to prevent nearly 330 nursing positions in essential areas from striking in the interests of public safety.

About 900 other nurses were allowed to walk the picket lines at Stroger, Provident and Cermak Health Services.

They formed picked lines the two hospital and at Cermak and held signs saying "Safe staffing saves lives" and "Our patients deserve better."


Stroger hospital went on ambulance bypass for emergency department and advanced life support cases at about 6:05 a.m. The situation will be evaluated every four hours.

The nurses say the facilities are chronically understaffed and nurses are unable to give proper medical care. They say procedures and operations are routinely rescheduled because of staffing issues.

The nurses are represented by the National Nurses Organizing Committee. The union has been in negotiations with Cook County Health since October 2020.

On Friday, SEIU Local 73 workers are expected to strike. That union’s membership includes housekeeping, food service, medical technologists, ward clerks, mental health workers, physician assistants, medical assistants and care coordination staff.

A Cook County Health spokeswoman said some elective and "non-urgent" procedures or appointments have been rescheduled. The system also planned to bring in agency nurses to increase staffing in trauma and emergency departments.

Some other Illinois hospitals have faced nurse strikes in recent years, with nurses often citing staffing as a main concern.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.