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Tentative Agreement Reached at USC-VHH

Posted by on Apr 23rd, 2015 and filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

By Mary O’KEEFE

“We are happy to announce that a tentative agreement has been reached between CNA (California Nurses Association) nurses at USC VHH (Verdugo Hills Hospital) and the University of Southern California for a first contract at VHH,” announced Dinorah Williams, CNA labor representative.

That tentative agreement was made on Friday and concluded after about a year of negotiation.

“[The] ratification vote was [Tuesday and Wednesday]. We expect a positive outcome and will sign soon afterward. We are pleased with the outcome and believe it is an agreement that is beneficial to both sides. Our focus is and continues to be on delivering exceptional care and service to our patients and those we serve in the foothill community,” stated Matt McElrath, EdD, chief human resources officer, Keck Medicine of USC.

Registered nurses at USC
Verdugo Hills Hospital have overwhelmingly voted to ratify a first union contract with hospital management, culminating a yearlong campaign persuading the University of Southern California to invest in patient care improvements at the hospital. The agreement includes contract protections for nurses to advocate for improved patient care, as well as wage and benefit improvements to enhance recruitment and retention at the hospital, stated the USC-VHH Nurse’s Unio

“This new agreement leaves us in a much stronger position to retain the experienced nurses our community deserves,” says Verdugo Hills RN Erica Beltran, “We’re so proud to have fought for a contract that best supports our ability to care for patients.”

In late March, the registered Nurses voted to strike however they continued to negotiate and never walked off the job.

In March 2014 VHH registered nurses voted to join the CNA/National Nurses Union by a 72% vote. Negotiations toward the first ever contract between the union and administration then began.

The road to Friday’s tentative agreement was not easy. In September 2014 a delegation of RNs delivered pillows and a petition the executives at the hospital. The pillows were a symbol of their pleas for better bedding and better beds. They continued their community outreach for support by putting a booth up at Montrose Harvest Market and asking the public to sign a petition in support of the nurses.

The nurses contend the hospital is staffed by more “travelers” then ever before. “Travelers” is a term for temporary nurses that go from hospital to hospital. The nurses claimed these temporary nurses were not consistent in their training. All of this was disputed by the USC VHH administration.

“USC Verdugo Hills Hospital consistently delivers high-quality patient-centered care,” said Janet Brooks, RN chief nurse administrator of USC VHH in an earlier interview with CVW. “Our nursing staff has lower than average turnover rates. In fact, our turnover rate is 9.5% for full and part-time nursing staff, which is equal to or below average for other community hospitals in Los Angeles County.”

RN’s and others however disputed these statements at the hospital.

“The [change] has been quite dramatic,” said Dr. Michael Klein, internal medicine at USC VHH in an earlier interview.

Throughout the negotiations the nurses were consistent in their claims, the administration consistent in their defense.

Friday’s CBA (collective bargaining agreement) includes patient care protections that we have won at two other USC hospitals and the economic improvement needed to help recruit and retain nurses at USC VHH.

“We’ll be meeting with nurses next week to go over the details and vote to ratify the contract,” Williams said.

There will still be changes at the hospital with the closing of the pharmacy at 1808 Verdugo Blvd.

Paul Craig, interim CEO USC VHH, confirmed that the “overall restructuring of the USC Health System, a recent reduction in force included 24 staff positions…. The restructuring will include the medical office building pharmacies which will soon be managed by the USC School of Pharmacy.”

 

 

Nurses Strengthen Patient Advocacy, Retain Experienced RNs In New Contract With USC- Verdugo Hills

 

(GLENDALE) Registered nurses at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital have overwhelmingly voted to ratify a first union contract with hospital management, culminating a yearlong campaign persuading the University of Southern California to invest in patient care improvements at the hospital. The agreement includes contract protections for nurses to advocate for improved patient care, as well as wage and benefit improvements to enhance recruitment and retention at the hospital.

 

The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU) represents around 150 RNs at Verdugo Hills who voted to join the union last year just months after the hospital was acquired by USC. Additionally, CNA represents around 800 RNs at Keck Hospital of USC and USC Norris Cancer Hospital who are covered under a different contract negotiated in 2013.

 

“This new agreement leaves us in a much stronger position to retain the experienced nurses our community deserves,” says Verdugo Hills RN Erica Beltran, “We’re so proud to have fought for a contract that best supports our ability to care for patients.”

 

The contract is patterned after the Keck and Norris contract, including all the rights and patient care protections CNA RNs have ben able to gain there. Contract highlights include:

 

  • Establishment of a Professional Practice Committee to address patient care issues. This independent committee of direct care RNs elected by their peers monitors patient care conditions at the hospital and meet with hospital officials to discuss patient care concerns. Disputes can be referred to a neutral dispute resolution process.
  • Staffing protections. The current agreement would hold management accountable for filling open positions with full-time, experienced RNs, who live and work in the local community rather than relying on temporary ‘travelers’. There are also protections ensuring RNs are not assigned (“floated”) to areas outside their area of professional expertise.
  • Improved wages. Wage increases of up to fourteen percent (14%) within the next 15 months to begin to reduce pay disparities with other nearby CNA hospitals.
  • Ongoing education. The hospital will provide nurses with paid time to attend continuing education classes for the first time.
  • Technology protections. In an era where the hospital industry is increasingly incorporating new technology, the RNs of Verdugo Hills have fought for contract language that will ensure nurses have a voice in how the technology impacts their ability to provide top quality care.

 

The new agreement will uphold high-quality care in the community served by Verdugo Hills, say nurses, strengthening a bond with area residents established over the course of the campaign.

 

Nurses recently delivered a petition signed by over 1000 residents of the surrounding community advocating for inpatient pharmacy services to be provided during the night shift. As nurses were voting this week, hospital administrators announced that those services would be opened.

 

“Our nurse leaders and members have seen the power of what happens when we stand together—advocating for what’s best for our patients. When nurses and our community unite, we can’t be ignored,” says Verdugo Hills RN Lisa Ryken.

 

The new contract will be in effect through December 31, 2016.

 

 

 

 

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