AUSTIN (KXAN) — A large group of nurses with National Nurses United gathered outside Ascension Seton Medical Center on Thursday.

Nurses told KXAN they are frustrated with how the hospital is addressing some of their biggest concerns.

Nurses claim there is chronic short-staffing, which can impact patient care.

The nurses are also disappointed with how contract negotiations are going with the hospital.

“Staffing is what is lacking, we are having issues retaining the nurses we have, and recruiting new nurses,” said Kristine Kittelson who is a nurse. “They are not putting the investments they have into us that have been here for a while, and they are firing our educators and ancillary staff.”

The hospital’s nurses voted to unionize in September and have been in contract negotiations for the first year.

“The main issue is making sure we are able to care for our patients adequately,” said Monica Gonzalez, who’s also a nurse.

Ascension Seton issued the following statement:

“We respect the right of unions to hold an informational assembly outside our facility. As with any event of this kind, the safety and security of our patients, visitors, associates, physicians and picketers is our first priority. This is not a strike/work stoppage event and will not impact patient care.

As healthcare systems across the U.S. continue to experience nursing shortages, we have a robust workforce development program focused on recruiting and retaining nurses through our residency and fellowship program, our nurse scholarship program and partnerships with more than 40 schools of nursing.

We continue to bargain in good faith to reach a mutually beneficial agreement on our RN contract. When bargaining an initial collective bargaining agreement, it is a longer process due to having to negotiate all terms of the contract, and based on data, can take well over a year to complete. Our ongoing goal is to support all of our associates in a just and equitable manner as we continue to provide safe, compassionate care to those we are privileged to serve.”

Ascension Seton