HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – A group of registered nurses gathered outside Cabell Huntington Hospital Wednesday afternoon with officials from the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU.
The RN’s, along with the SEIU officials, took a petition to hospital administrators at approximately 4 p.m. asking to be recognized as part of the union, but they say they were met with “no comment” from Vice President of Operations, Tim Martin.
The RN’s at Cabell Huntington Hospital say are concerned about patient care due to mandatory overtime and staffing issues. Director of Human Resources, Molly Frick, released a statement just before 5 p.m. stating the hospital denies allegations of subpar care for patients.
“We are disappointed SEIU would make this claim as Cabell has not received reports against nursing quality,” Frick said.
Shannon Caskey is one of approximately 900 nurses at the hospital. She says she has worked for CHH for three years and is currently a RN in the surgery department and says she works anywhere from 50 to 60 hours a week.
“Sometimes you’re staying over late staying over late because there nobody there to relieve you,” Caskey said. “I can tell you, by all these changes they are getting ready to make, it’s sure not going to influence people to come and work here.”
The nurses said they have been organizing for approximately three weeks and Joyce Gibson, Regional Director of SEIU 1199, says the nurses at St. Mary’s are also organizing to form their own union.
The hospital states the reason behind the RN’s wanting to unionize is due to a change in their benefits.
Cabell Huntington Hospital’s full statement is below.
“We are surprised to learn of the SEIU’s assertions that Cabell Huntington Hospital nursing care, particularly in critical care units, is not high quality. Cabell Huntington Hospital is proud of the high-quality care nurses provide in all departments. Cabell has been recognized in the form of national accreditations and has received multiple awards for achieving high quality care and outcomes.Molly K. Frick, J.D., Director of Human Resources, Cabell Huntington Hospital
In fact, Cabell Huntington Hospital is the only hospital in West Virginia and the Tri-State region to be named to America’s 250 Best Hospitals list by Healthgrades. This award recognizes the top 5% of 5,000 hospitals in the nation for clinical excellence. Cabell received this award for demonstrating superior clinical outcomes across many common inpatient conditions and procedures and sustaining this performance for at least five consecutive years. Not only does this award demonstrate Cabell’s superior clinical outcomes and sustained performance in terms of the highest quality patient care, it also recognizes collaboration and teamwork across the organization. In addition, Cabell also has been recognized as one of Healthgrades 2019 America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Orthopedic Surgery and among America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Joint Replacement for more than eight years in a row. For a complete listing of Cabell Huntington Hospital awards, visit us on the web at www.cabellhuntington.org.
We are disappointed SEIU would make this claim as Cabell has not received reports against nursing quality. In reality, this issue has arisen as a result of the recent medical plan changes that have been announced for all non-bargaining employees. We have enjoyed healthcare benefits without premiums, though most other employers have required their employees to pay healthcare premiums for over 25 years. Only 1% of large employers (200 or more employees) nationally do not charge medical benefit premiums. The decision for medical plan changes was delayed in 2019 to consider all options and lessen the impact on staff. However, the current benefit structure is not sustainable. We must control expenses to remain competitive in the healthcare market and thrive in the future.
Cabell Huntington Hospital has been recognized regionally and nationally as a “Best Place to Work” for its robust benefits, wellness initiatives, commitment to diversity and inclusion, professional development opportunities and work environments that promote employee satisfaction and work-life balance. Cabell Huntington Hospital has received this honor multiple years. We will continue to invest in wages and benefits that are most beneficial to staff.
Cabell Huntington Hospital is disappointed by the SEIU’s false claims about the quality of our healthcare services because the SEIU has represented employees in multiple departments for more than 40 years. Nevertheless, we will continue to work professionally and in good faith with SEIU in all matters affecting those existing union employees in the future.