St. Joseph Hospital.
Thirty-five positions were eliminated at St. Joseph and Redwood Memorial hospitals this week in what the workers’ union calls retaliatory firings in the wake of a rally on staffing levels but the administration describes as workforce realignments that are part of changes “to provide a more efficient and value-based care delivery system.”
Of the 35, according to St. Joseph Hospital marketing and communications manager Christian Hill, 10 were open positions that will not be filled.
In an email sent to the Journal
this afternoon, Hill said employees were given 90-days’ notice and will receive severance pay, the amount of which will depend on their length of service.
Most of the staff reductions are taking place at St. Joseph Hospital and the number of layoffs represents about 2 percent of both hospitals’ total workforce of 1,200, according to Hill.
“We are doing everything we can to support affected caregivers and to transition them to a position elsewhere within St. Joseph Hospital or Redwood Memorial if eligible and, whenever possible, to find opportunities within SJH,” Hill wrote.
National Union of Healthcare Workers steward Allen McCloskey said this afternoon that he anticipated the number of staffers who lost their jobs to increase with more notices being given out today and updated numbers are expected to be available later this evening.
Calling the hospital’s stance on the reductions “a good sound bite,” McCloskey said the reality on the ground is there was already a staffing crisis and the cuts will result in delayed care across the board for patients.
“It’s a domino effect here and they know, they know, they just don’t care at this point,” McCloskey said. “The corporate agenda is dictating the level of care we’re getting in Humboldt.”
The St. Joseph Health System merged with Providence Health and Services in 2016.
Hill said the eliminated positions included “a mix of senior leadership, support staff and patient care positions.”
“Healthcare continues to undergo a transformation toward more integration and coordinated care,” Hill wrote in the email to the Journal
. “This transformation necessitates that healthcare providers and hospitals make changes and realignments to provide a more efficient and value-based care delivery system. As healthcare continues to evolve so too must our work. The jobs we had five years ago are not the jobs we need today.”
In a Wednesdayday Facebook post announcing the notices, McCloskey wrote that “corporate greed and the corporate agenda has now replaced any level of commitment to the values once envisioned by the founding Sisters.”
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange began administering to Humboldt County patients during the flu epidemic of 1918 and opened St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka in 1920, according to the hospital’s website.
“As the largest private sector employer in Humboldt County and the regional healthcare provider, St. Joseph Health should be committed to growing and retaining jobs, which are so incredibly vital to a healthy local economy, a physically healthy community and better quality of life for our families,” McCloskey wrote.
The layoffs came a few days after healthcare workers held a rally in front of the Eureka hospital – one of many held in recent years to decry what they say are inadequate staffing levels at St. Joseph and Redwood Memorial hospitals.
McCloskey wrote in his Facebook post that the union will be “calling on St. Joseph Health to cease this retaliatory behavior and the blatant disregard for the safety of our patients.”
Hill stated that the hospital system is committed to “patient safety and the well-being of our patients” and that the union is “taking a destructive and divisive approach by making misleading claims about patient safety and staffing in response to changes we are making and the announcement of the elimination of some positions.
“The realignment work we are undertaking is about creating the best services and operational model,” Hill stated. “We remain committed to growing our workforce in areas that are right for our organization and community.”
Read Allen McCloskey’s Facebook post below:
St. Joseph Health - Humboldt County has begun FIRING union members over the phone as of 8:00 am (Wednesday) morning.
The corporate greed and the corporate agenda has now replaced any level of commitment to the values once envisioned by the founding Sisters. This is incredibly disappointing but not surprising when you consider the leaderships actions as of late. This is an incredibly sad day for Humboldt County and the marvelous legacy of the founding Sisters.
As the largest private sector employer in Humboldt County and the regional healthcare provider, St Joseph Health should be committed to growing and retaining jobs, which are so incredibly vital to a healthy local economy, a physically healthy community and better quality of life for our families.
We are going to be calling on St Joseph Health to cease this retaliatory behavior and the blatant disregard for the safety of our patients, to honor the contractual obligation to negotiate in good faith with and to provide notice to both Nuhw National Union of Healthcare Workers and the California Nurses Association with regards to any reductions, and demand that they meet their charity care obligation with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and that they do right by our community and abide by their obligation to provide the best care possible for our families.
I encourage the community to call 707-445-8121 and ask for the hospital president and let her know how you feel. Also express your concerns with Senator Mike McGuire and let Mike know how devastating this is to our community. As for me and my team we will keep fighting for the best interest of our community and our union members.
Union Steward Assembly Delegate for CA District 2