Nurses Reject Good Sam Contract, Cite Patient Safety

Today, nurses voted to reject a contract offer from Good Samaritan Regional Health Center, Corvallis’ only hospital, and both sides have said they will continue to negotiate. The talks now include a federal mediator.

Hospital spokesman Jim Rollins said, “While we are disappointed in the results of the vote, we look forward to meeting again with the ONA Bargaining Team in mediation to reach an agreement that will benefit our staff and patients.”

Nurses Concerned About Patient Safety

A central concern of the nurses is over-scheduling. They maintain that excessive forced overtime for operating room teams and hospital impact patient safety.

This not the first time the nurses have pointed out that patient safety is demonstrably affected when nurses are over-scheduled. During contract negotiations in 2013, it was other departments in the hospital that were effected, and The Advocate reported extensively on research showing how patient safety is impacted by nursing staff schedules.

HERE IS THE FULL TEXT OF A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON NURSES ASSOCIATION:

(CORVALLIS, Ore.) – More than 500 nurses at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center resoundingly voted down a contract offer from Samaritan Health Services corporate executives, sending the two teams back into federal mediation.

The central contract issues include excessive forced overtime for operating room teams and hospital profiteering at the cost of employee health and patient safety. Corvallis nurses have been meeting Samaritan Health Services executives for months to reach a fair contract agreement which addresses the hospital’s chronic staffing and safety problems and improves patient care. The nurses are represented by the Oregon Nurses Association, Oregon’s largest nursing organization.

“Samaritan’s contract offer fails our patients, our community and our health care providers,” said local nurse leader Christina Terkildsen. “Nurses have shared our safety concerns with Samaritan over and over again but their executives refuse to address the problem. We need a real contract to protect our patients’ safety and ensure safe staffing throughout the hospital.”

In spite of nurses’ calls to improve safety standards, Samaritan continues forcing operating room nurses at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center to work extreme amounts of overtime shifts which threatens patient safety. Operating room nurses are forced to work 12 or more hours of overtime call shifts a week beyond their full-time schedules–leading to exhausted staff and causing many outstanding nurses to leave. This is one of many serious issues nurses have sounded the alarm over in order to protect patient safety and uphold Oregon’s Hospital Nurse Staffing Law.

“Despite nurses’ hard work and sacrifices, Samaritan refuses to address critical staffing and safety issues like excessive mandatory overtime. More needs to be done,” said local nurse leader Jesse Hazleton. “Patients need to feel confident that the nurses caring for them aren’t being pushed to the brink.”

Nurses at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center have been working without a contract since June 30. Throughout negotiations, Samaritan Health Services has refused to respond to basic information requests from nurses, cancelled negotiation meetings with little notice, and failed to respond to nurses’ proposals to improve staffing and patient safety and keep health care affordable.

Nurses hope to return to mediation as soon as possible to reach a fair contract agreement which puts patients first, keeps health care affordable for employees and their families, and addresses long-term safety and staffing concerns.