Still No Agreement for East Liverpool Nurses

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio — After the first bargaining session between Ohio Nurses Association/East Liverpool Nurses Association Local 5903 members and East Liverpool City Hospital, there is still no agreement between the two parties despite the nurses union presenting a new offer.

According to a statement from the nurses union late Tuesday, the hospital continues to reject offers made by the union since the last negotiation session on Nov. 17, prompting the nurses to walk out Nov. 21, citing unfair labor practices by hospital administration.

The ONA represents 128 registered nurses at the hospital, owned by Prime Healthcare Foundation, headquartered in California. Talks initially broke down after 11 bargaining sessions and two contract extensions until the existing contract expired just before the day of the strike.

In its statement, the union alleges the results from Tuesday’s session “is a reversal of statements” made by Keith Richardson, president and CEO of East Liverpool City Hospital. At the time, Richardson said, “We hope that we can sit down with them soon so we can finish negotiations.”

“The hospital must realize that our community deserves better. The more patients added to my workload because of unsafe and short staffing, the less attention and care each of those patients are receiving,” Lori Bruce, local nurse president, said in the release. “I guarantee that Prime Health administrators would not want their loved ones’ nurse running from room to room, exhausted and just trying to stay afloat. They would want their loved ones’ nurse to provide maximum quality care.

“It just shows that Prime Health doesn’t care about our community, and only about padding their pockets. They must have a change of heart, and we are ready to go back to the bargaining table to reach a fair agreement when they do,” Bruce continued.

The nurses were back on the job Nov. 24.

Hospital data shows a 22% vacancy rate among registered nurses, with 36 RN vacancies out of a workforce that should total some 160, the union reports.

One of the vacancies is because of the recent resignation of Brady Winland, a former nurse at the hospital. In the statement, Winland cited “inadequate staffing and unavoidable burnout” among the reasons for her resignation.

“The week leading up to my resignation, we were being asked to help for shifts 24-36 hours in advance and nurses were finding themselves with the highest nurse-to-patient ratios they’ve ever seen,” Winland said.

“Although I worked for the hospital, I always practice under my own nursing license. Nurses have the right to practice in environments that allow them to act in accordance with professional standards and legally authorized scopes of practice. And the right to a work environment that is safe for ourselves and for our patients,” Winland continued “I was witnessing nursing rights being stretched to the limits and being put in situations that leave the nurse vulnerable to career-ending repercussions and that ultimately led to my untimely departure from East Liverpool City Hospital.”

Pictured: Members of Local 5903 of the Ohio Nurses Association/East Liverpool Nurses Association walked off the job Nov. 21.

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