Striking nurses at Illinois hospital return to work without new contract

https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/university-illinois-nurses-back-to-work-after-strike/585631/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Issue:%202020-09-22%20Healthcare%20Dive%20%5Bissue:29794%5D&utm_term=Healthcare%20Dive

Dive Brief:

  • Nurses at the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago returned to work Monday following a weeklong strike over their new contract. The two sides were unable to reach an agreement despite negotiations “that ran well into the evening” each night of the strike and planned to resume talks Monday.
  • They made some progress on key issues. The hospital agreed to hire more than 200 nurses to quell staff-to-patient ratio concerns at the forefront of the strike, according to the Illinois Nurses Association. UIH also proposed slight wage increases for nurses opposed to previously offered freezes, though the union countered with larger increases, INA said.
  • UIH agreed that it’s closer to making a deal on the contract despite not reaching a tentative agreement. Nurses will report to work under the existing terms of their past contract until a new deal is reached.

Dive Insight:

Nurse staffing levels have been an issue since long before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the crisis has accelerated those concerns, along with labor activity, as clinicians on the front lines have faced grueling conditions.

Before the strike began, UIH said staff-patient ratios are too rigid and remove flexibility, instead favoring acuity-based models focused on “obtaining the right nurse at the right time for each patient.”

But it amended that proposal last week, now agreeing to hire 200 nurses “to improve the staffing ratio, addressing the most important issue the nurses insisted on as a primary reason to strike,” according to INA.

Illinois has a Safe Patient Limits bill before its legislature that would spell out the maximum number of patients who may be assigned to a registered nurse in specified situations. HB 2604 was introduced in February 2019 and is currently before the House rules committee, though it has not received a full vote.

On Sept. 11, the day before the UIH strike began, a judge granted a temporary restraining order forbidding nurses in certain critical care units from going on strike.

The lawsuit, filed by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, claimed a work stoppage among those nurses would endanger public safety due to the unique nature of the services provided in the units, specialized needs of patients they serve and lack of qualified substitutes to perform nurses’ duties.

About 525 nurses out of 1,400 represented by INA were barred from striking at UIH, according to the union.

Two days after UIH nurses walked off the job, service workers at the university main campus, hospital and various other facilities also went on strike.

Some 4,000 clerical, professional, technical, service and maintenance workers represented by Service Employees International Union 73 went on strike Sept. 14 over similar issues as the nurses, mainly staffing and pay.

The planned duration of the SEIU strike is unclear, though it’s been a week since it began.

“As UIC nurses return to work, we will continue our strike,” the union said in a statement. “We won’t quit until UIC respects us, protects us and pays us. Working through a pandemic and seeing our co-workers die has stiffened our resolve to fight for however long it takes to ensure the safety of all workers and those we serve.”

 

 

 

 

Where furloughs stand at 92 hospitals, health systems

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/where-furloughs-stand-at-92-hospitals-health-systems.html?utm_medium=email

Virus: Idaho school district furloughs 145 employees

U.S. hospitals and health systems were forced to make cost reduction a priority this spring to offset decreases in patient volume, a ban on elective procedures and increased expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While cost reduction strategies differed across organizations, more than 266 hospitals and health systems announced plans to furlough a portion of their staff to help address the financial fallout.

Below are status updates on many of the hospital and health system furloughs announced this spring, such as how many workers have been called back, how many are still on furlough and how many have been let go.

1. Adena Health System (Chillicothe, Ohio)

Since mid-April, the health system has furloughed 579 employees. Adena projected a deficit of  more than $50 million through 2020 due to a lack of elective procedures.

As of Aug. 31, all of Adena’s furloughed workers have been called back to work, the health system told Becker’s Hospital Review.

2. Altru Health System (Grand Forks, N.D.)

The health system reduced the number of staffing hours by 10 percent to 15 percent through furloughs and a system-required absence program during April. An Altru Health System spokesperson provided Becker’s the following statement Sept. 2:

“Altru responded to reduced volumes and changing patient and community health needs during the COVID situation by implementing system requested absence time for employees. This is mandatory time off when an employee is removed from the schedule, implemented on a shift-by-shift and at times week-by-week basis, while maintaining their benefits. During COVID when we experienced periods of sustained lower volume, Altru had upwards of 100 employees who consistently were not able to work all of their typically scheduled hours. Approximately 90 percent of these employees have since returned to their full time equivalent.  We continue to respond to changing patient needs, placing employees where they are needed throughout the health system.”

3. Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital (Chicago) 

In April, the hospital furloughed about 20 percent of its staff through the end of the month, though staff members still received pay and healthcare benefits. Lurie CFO Ron Blaustein told Becker’sthat as of Aug. 31 the furloughs and pay cuts are over.

“However, we continue to align our resources with the projected lower than expected volumes as a result of the impact of the pandemic and continued masking and social distancing,” Mr. Blaustein added.

4. Arnot Health (Elmira, N.Y.) 

In April, the health system laid off 400 employees to shore up finances.

As of Aug. 27, about 300 of the 400 employees have returned to work. “Decisions on the balance of the workers who were furloughed are being made based on a careful analysis of patient volume, to ensure our ability to be responsive to the community’s needs while maintaining our financial stability at a time where revenues have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” a spokesperson for the health system told Becker’s.

5. Aspirus Health (Wausau, Wis.)

Citing the financial hit from COVID-19, Aspirus Health furloughed a portion of its staff beginning May 1, according to a system press release. The furloughs primarily affected employees who did not work directly in patient care.

“As of the end of August, Aspirus had recalled 214 of our furloughed team members. Our goal is to recall all remaining furloughed employees; fewer than 40 percent have yet to be recalled,” Aspirus Health wrote in a Sept. 2 email to Becker’s.

6. Ballad Health (Johnson City, Tenn.)

On April 10, citing severe patient volume disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ballad Health furloughed 1,300 team members. The furloughs affected about 10 percent of its workforce.

As of Sept. 8, about 200 team members remain on furlough, a hospital spokesperson told Becker’s.

“Those team members are still receiving medical benefits and are being contacted this week to discuss other opportunities within Ballad Health in order to return them to full employment within the organization as soon as possible,” the spokesperson said Sept. 8.

The spokesperson added that while the majority of the other 1,300 furloughed members have returned to their roles, some found other positions within Ballad Health or have secured other employment opportunities outside of the health system.

7. Baptist Health (Little Rock, Ark.) 

Baptist Health this spring furloughed an unspecified number of employees to remain financially stable amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The health system also reduced benefits, and took additional steps to offset a drop in patient volume and revenue losses.

As of the end of July, Baptist Health brought its workforce back, and it has also restored some of the retirement benefits the health system stopped in April, President and CEO Troy Wells told news website Talk Business & Politics.

8. Bay Area Hospital (Coos Bay, Ore.)

Seventy-one employees from the hospital opted to take voluntary furloughs this spring. All of them have been called back to work, according to a hospital spokesperson.

9. Beaumont Health (Southfield, Mich.)

The health system implemented furloughs in April to offset pandemic-induced losses in revenue. A Beaumont Health spokesperson provided the following statement to Becker’s in a Sept. 2 email:

“Throughout this pandemic, Beaumont Health has made the difficult decision to lay off about 2,700 employees. Though approximately 2,000 have been returned to their previous roles or comparable positions, we are actively working with the remaining 550 to match them to available open jobs across the organization.”

10. Blount Memorial Hospital (Maryville, Tenn.)

In April, the hospital furloughed 211 employees due to low patient volume amid the pandemic. All but one of them have been brought back, according to a spokesperson for the hospital.

11. Boston Medical Center

Boston Medical Center furloughed this spring 10 percent of its workforce, or about 750 staff members, due to financial losses from the COVID-19 pandemic.

A hospital spokesperson told Becker’s Sept. 3 that about 660 furloughed employees have returned to work and about 90 employees are still furloughed. The health system expects the remaining 90 workers to return to work by the end of September.

12. Bronson Healthcare (Kalamazoo, Mich.)

Citing the suspension of elective procedures and a 50 percent reduction in revenue, the health system furloughed hundreds of employees in April. Furloughed employees were not paid and could not use paid time off.

“Bronson Healthcare’s 16-week furlough period for several hundred employees ended in August as planned with the exception of those who work in its fitness centers which, by governor’s order, cannot reopen until Sept. 9, 2020,” a spokesperson for the health system told Becker’s.

13. Campbell County Health (Gillette, Wyo.)

The health system furloughed an undisclosed number of employees in April. All of them have returned to work, according to the hospital’s spokesperson.

14. Cape Cod Healthcare (Hyannis, Mass.) 

Cape Cod Healthcare furloughed 595 employees in May due to reduced patient volumes and financial losses related to the pandemic.

On Aug. 28, the health system announced that it had recalled 477 of the 595 furloughed workers, and 118 will be laid off.

15. Cape Fear Valley Health(Fayetteville, N.C.)

The health system furloughed 783 employees this spring to help offset financial damage from the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of late July, Cape Fear Valley Health had brought back 721 furloughed employees and the remaining 62 employees would not be returning, according to the health system.

16. Carthage (N.Y.) Area Hospital

Citing the financial burden caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospital furloughed 20 percent of its staff April 17. About 83 staff members were affected. Furloughed employees with health insurance could still receive those benefits.

The hospital received its Paycheck Protection Program loan April 20, allowing all furloughed employees to return to work, a spokesperson for the hospital told Becker’s.

17. Catholic Health (Buffalo, N.Y.)

The health system furloughed nearly 1,100 employees in April. Most have returned to work, but “about 50 associates in support roles” remain on furlough, a Catholic Health spokesperson told Becker’s Sept. 2.

18. Catholic Medical Center (Manchester, N.H.)

In April, the hospital furloughed 423 employees after canceling elective procedures to save staff and supplies for COVID-19 patients. It also reduced hours for 914 other employees.

In late July, the hospital permanently laid off 50 furloughed employees as well as another 21 employees who weren’t on furlough.

As of Aug. 26, all furloughed workers not affected by the layoffs had been brought back, the hospital told Becker’s.

19. Central Maine Healthcare (Lewiston)

The health system furloughed about 330 employees to help offset the revenue loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in April. The furloughs affected about 10 percent of its workforce.

A Central Maine Healthcare spokesperson in June said about three-quarters of its 300 employees furloughed in April were recalled.

As of Aug. 31, the remaining employees on furlough had been called back, a spokesperson told Becker’s.

20. Children’s Mercy (Kansas City, Mo.)

The hospital furloughed 575 employeest on April 26. Hospital officials said the furloughs were imposed to help offset fiscal losses attributed to the pandemic.

“As we have started ramping back up, all but 60 of the furloughed employees have been called back. For those eligible, severance packages will be made available. We are deeply grateful for their contributions to Children’s Mercy and the patients and families they have served,” a June 22 letter to employees read.

21. Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center (Ogdensburg, N.Y.)

In April, about 175 of the medical center’s 850 employees were affected by salary reductions, reduced hours or unpaid leave. A spokesperson for the medical center provided Becker’s with the following statement Sept. 3:

“We have been able to return all but 4 percent of our workforce to employment and restore salaries to pre-COVID levels. Nearly half of the layoffs are employees on unpaid leave. Other positions that have remained open or unfilled at this time have also been eliminated, but have not affected current employees. These changes came into effect around July 31, 2020.”

22. Columbia Memorial Hospital (Astoria, Ore.)

The hospital furloughed 90 of its 740 employees in late March after the facility scaled back nonemergent procedures to concentrate on the coronavirus.

As of July 28, the facility reinstated 34 of the 90 furloughed employees.

23. Connecticut Children’s Medical Center (Hartford)

The children’s hospital furloughed 400 employees across its system in April. The system said its patient volume has been cut in half due to halting elective procedures. Furloughed employees were mainly nonclinical workers.

As of Aug. 10, most are back at work, CEO James Shmerling told the Hartford Business Journal.

24. Cookeville (Tenn.) Regional Medical Center 

Citing a decrease in patient volume and revenue due to the pandemic, Cookeville Regional Medical Center furloughed about 400 employees of its 2,300-person workforce.

A hospital spokesperson told Becker’s Sept. 3 that staff members were brought back to the medical center in phases over several weeks. The health system has now called back all of its employees.

“We are happy to report that all our employees have been called back to return to work with full schedules, and almost all services are reopened with processes in place to protect our patients and staff from the spread of COVID-19,” a hospital spokesperson toldBecker’s Hospital Review. 

25. Edward-Elmhurst (Ill.) Health 

The health system furloughed a portion of its 8,000-person workforce due to the pandemic. The furloughs took place across departments over June, July and August.

The health system told Becker’s Aug. 21 it is unclear how many employees were still on furlough.

26. Elizabethtown (N.Y.) Community Hospital

The hospital furloughed 25 staff members in April after experiencing a revenue cut of 50 percent due to the suspension of elective procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic. All but one of the affected employees have returned to work, a hospital representative told Becker’s in a Sept. 2 email.

27. Emory Healthcare (Atlanta) 

Emory Healthcare cut hours or furloughed 1,500 workers to help offset a revenue shortfall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The health system told Becker’s Aug. 25 that it continues its clinical and financial recovery program after experiencing its second peak of COVID-19. “It would be premature to comment further at this time,” a spokesperson said.

28. Erlanger Health System (Chattanooga, Tenn.)

Erlanger Health System said in March it was implementing a cost-reduction plan that included furloughs and pay reductions for leadership. The moves were prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The health system ended its furloughs June 22, but had to lay off 93 workers who were previously furloughed across the health system, a spokesperson confirmed to Becker’s Sept. 2.

29. Essentia Health (Duluth, Minn.)

Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, Essentia Health in March placed about 500 nonclinical staff on a special administrative leave.

Of those 500 employees, all but 65 of have been brought back to work, a spokesperson for Essentia Health told Becker’s Sept. 2.

30. Evangelical Community Hospital (Lewisburg, Pa.)

This spring, as the pandemic was declared and certain services slowed, Evangelical Community Hospital furloughed a portion of its staff. In March, 250 employees were furloughed, including 173 full or part-time employees and 77 per diem employees.

As of Sept. 8, 155 full and part time employees have been recalled and the per diem employees are used as needed, a hospital spokesperson said. Additionally, nine full and part-time employees were laid off, seven full and part-time employees retired and two full and part time employees remain on furlough, the spokesperson said.

31. Faith Community Health System (Jacksboro, Texas)

In April, the health system furloughed, cut hours or reassigned about 75 percent of its staff due to the suspension of elective procedures.

CEO Frank Beaman told Becker’s Aug. 31 that all furloughed staff have been brought back to work. He added that none of the staff affected by the furloughs or who had their hours cut lost any income, as they were able to use vacation time to supplement their income.

32. Fayette County Memorial Hospital (Washington Court House, Ohio)

Citing a revenue and patient volume drop from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ohio hospital furloughed 71 of its 352 employees this spring.

A hospital spokesperson told Becker’s that everybody was brought back mid-May. Since workers were brought back, one employee has been laid off, the spokesperson said.

33. Fenway Health (Boston) 

In March and April, Fenway Health furloughed 143 employees in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of Sept. 1, 52 of those employees have been brought back to work, Fenway told Becker’s. Of the 83 still on furlough, about 65 of them work in Fenway’s retail, dental and acupuncture operations.

Fenway has not laid off any of the furloughed staff and they have all received full health insurance coverage during their furloughs. Eight of the furloughed employees have left Fenway, a spokesperson told Becker’s.

“We ultimately expect to bring everyone back as our patient care volume continues to return to pre-pandemic levels,” the spokesperson added.

34. Freeman Health System (Joplin, Mo.) 

Freeman Health System implemented a voluntary furlough program for its staff members this spring after suspending elective procedures.

A hospital spokesperson told Becker’s Sept. 2 that all of the employees who volunteered to take furloughs have returned to work. The furloughs lasted about one month and had no impact on benefits. Freeman Health System was also able to implement staff raises during this time, according to the hospital spokesperson.

35. Froedtert Health (Wauwatosa, Wis.) 

Froedtert Health furloughed and cut the hours of some workers in April, according to furloughed nurses from the system.

“Like all healthcare organizations, we continue to evaluate the daily operational and staffing needs for our organization. Since March, staff members continued to remain active Froedtert Health employees during low-census and furlough status. At this time, approximately 1 percent  of our staff are impacted by reduced hours,” a hospital spokesperson told Becker’s Sept. 2.

36. Halifax Health (Daytona Beach, Fla.) 

In April, the health system furloughed nearly 400 of its staff members and required all nonclinical staff take one day off per week.

In July, Halifax laid off 95 of the furloughed workers. Employees no longer had to take one day of paid time off each week as of July 1 and employees who took a pay cut instead of paid days off had their salaries restored.

All furloughed workers unaffected by the layoffs returned to work Aug. 3, Halifax told Becker’s.

37. Henry Ford Health System (Detroit)

In April, the health system furloughed 2,800 staffers not directly involved in patient care due to financial damage from the COVID-19 pandemic. Ninety-two percent of furloughed staff have returned to work, a Henry Ford representative told Becker’s in an Aug. 31 email.

38. Hillcrest HealthCare System (Tulsa, Okla.)

Hillcrest HealthCare System said in April it would furlough 600 employees for up to 90 days. The furloughs affected about 9 percent of staff and were a result of a decline in routine and elective procedures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A hospital spokesperson told Becker’s Sept. 1: “We made the difficult decision to reduce staffing in some areas across our system as part of a strategic restructuring due to the devastating impact from COVID-19. While the reduction represents less than 1 percent of our workforce, it does not make the decision any less difficult or impactful to those team members affected.”

39. Hospital Sisters Health System (Springfield, Ill.)

Hospital Sisters Health System furloughed a portion of its staff in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In August, the health system announced plans to reduce its workforce by 10 percent. The reductions include some of those who were furloughed.

40. Infirmary Health (Mobile, Ala.)

Citing a decrease in patient volume and revenue, the health system furloughed a portion of its staff in April. All affected employees have returned to work, according to an Infirmary Health spokesperson.

41. Kaleida Health (Buffalo, N.Y.)

The health system offered a temporary, voluntary furlough program for its staff in April. The furlough program is a joint agreement with two unions that represent 8,000 Kaleida Health employees. All of the health system’s furloughed employees have since returned, according to Michael Hughes, its senior vice president and chief of staff.

42. Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital (Somerset, Ky.)

In April, the hospital placed 17 percent of its workforce on temporary leave. Those workers continued to receive health insurance and 25 percent of their wages.

As of Sept. 2, all of those employees have returned to work, according to CEO Robert Parker.

“We are extremely grateful to our many dedicated team members, across all of our departments, who have worked tirelessly to keep one another and our patients safe as we continue the fight against COVID-19,” Mr. Parker said.

43. Lawrence (La.) General Hospital

In early April, Lawrence General placed 8 percent of its staff, or 160 employees, on a four-week furlough. Most of the furloughs affected nonclinical workers.

The hospital told Becker’s Sept. 2 that the safety-net facility had to extend the initial time frame of the four-week furlough four more weeks to address the volume dip and subsequent revenue loss attributed to the pandemic.

Although most of the furloughed workers returned to work June 15, 10 furloughed positions were eliminated, and a few employees remained on furlough until July 15. Now, those workers are back.

“Within weeks, canceling all elective volume and ramping up staff, supplies and equipment for the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a 40 percent decline in patient volume and income and an increase in costs. The response required by Lawrence General Hospital to fight the pandemic, combined with an already challenging financial outlook for safety-net hospitals,” a Lawrence General hospital spokesperson said.

44. Lee Health (Fort Myers, Fla.)

Lee Health offered voluntary buyouts and voluntary summer leave program to help offset losses attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 600 employees took voluntary buyouts, and a lot of workers took summer sabbaticals, but no one is keeping track of the exact number, a spokesperson for the health system told Becker’s Aug. 24. The spokesperson said about 150 people took leaves of absence. Lee Health is trying to get all of these workers back as patient volume returns to  normal.

45. Lewis County Health System (Lowville, N.Y)

The health system placed 14 percent of its workforce on unpaid leave in April due to the pandemic. They have all returned to work, according to a spokesperson from the health system.

46. Marshfield (Wis.) Clinic

Marshfield Clinic in April said it would furlough employees who are not involved in preparing for the anticipated surge in COVID-19 patients.

As of Sept. 1, the system had recalled 96 percent of the employees who were on furlough, a Marshfield Clinic spokesperson confirmed to Becker’s. Some of the employees who did not return retired or ended employment with the health system, the spokesperson said.

47. Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital (Grand Rapids, Mich.)

The hospital furloughed 32 percent of its staff members in April, affecting 603 employees. As of Aug. 31, 512 employees had returned, 34 remain furloughed and 57 were terminated, a hospital representative told Becker’sSept. 1.

The spokesperson also said that Mary Free Bed augmented unemployment benefits when it issued the furloughs so employees would receive about 75 percent of their regular wages. Affected employees also received dental, vision and life insurance, as well as 100 percent coverage for behavioral health telehealth visits and COVID-19 treatment.

48. Maury Regional Health(Columbia, Tenn.)

Maury Regional Health implemented two rounds of furloughs this spring that affected 414 employees; the first round affected 340 employees.

A hospital spokesperson told Becker’s Sept. 2 that of the 414 employees affected, 287 staff members were called back to work, and 127 employees were laid off.

49. McDonough District Hospital (Macomb, Ill.)

The hospital furloughed 60 workers in April amid declining revenue from the pandemic. It has brought back 14 of those employees, a hospital representative told Becker’s in a Sept. 2 email.

50. Mid-Columbia Medical Center (Dalles, Ore.) 

The medical center began furloughing employees May 3 in an effort to help offset losses attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. The furloughs primarily affected departments that were not seeing a lot of patients.

A Mid-Columbia Medical Center spokesperson told Becker’s the medical center has brought back all of its furloughed staff members, except for those who worked within its spa services, which have been closed due to financial instability.

51. Melissa Memorial Hospital (Holyoke, Colo.)

Melissa Memorial Hospital, a 15-bed critical access hospital with about 100 employees, placed 19 employees on furlough this spring due to a reduction in volume amid the coronavirus pandemic. The hospital had a layered approach to cost reduction, as some employees were on reduced hours, some on furlough, and managers volunteered to take pay cuts.

Cathy Harshbarger, BSN, RN, and the hospital’s CEO, confirmed with Becker’s that due to restructuring to respond to the pandemic, eight employees were laid off, and the remaining employees were brought back to work. Terminated employees were offered a severance package.

Six of the eight terminated employees were part of the hospital’s dental and optical departments, which were struggling with volume before the pandemic. The hospital looked at operations and reworked many of the departments to gain efficiencies. Due to this restructuring, the other two employees were laid off.

All employees who took pay cuts have had their regular salaries restored, Ms. Harshbarger said.

“It’s scary for a rural hospital. Our little hospital was dealing with trying to build cash again after a loss in volume. At the beginning, we were worried because we had just 32 days of cash on hand. We had to act very quickly and tighten things down,” Ms. Harshbarger said. “Through teamwork, we developed and found efficiencies we really needed.”

52. Mercy Medical Center (Canton, Ohio.)

Mercy Medical Center began implementing furloughs in March  due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The system placed 349 employees on full furlough and 376 employees on partial furlough.

As of Sept. 3, 15 employees remain on full furlough, two remain on partial furlough, and 19 employee  positions were eliminated, according to a hospital spokesperson.

53. Mohawk Valley Health System (Utica, N.Y.)

The health system furloughed about 20 percent of its workforce of 4,000 in April as part of a cost-cutting plan to recover from lost revenue caused by the pandemic. A spokesperson for the health system told Becker’s that about “300 employees have been brought back so far” in a Sept. 2 email.

54. Monument Health (Rapid City, S.D.)

In April, Monument Health placed 200 employees on furlough to help preserve protective gear and save costs after suspending elective surgeries. The furloughs affected 4 percent of its workforce. The health system “brought its furloughed caregivers back as needed through Aug. 17, when the furlough officially ended,” a Monument representative told Becker’s.

55. Munson Healthcare (Traverse City)

Citing a financial hit from the suspension of elective procedures, the health system furloughed a portion of its staff in April.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Munson Healthcare in significant ways, we can report that 90 percent of the individuals who were placed in furlough status are no longer on furlough,” a Munson Healthcare spokesperson told Becker’s in a Sept. 2 email.

56. MUSC Health (Charleston, S.C.)

The eight-hospital system said it would temporarily lay off 900 employees, or 5 percent of its workforce, to offset the financial hit caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The temporary layoffs, which do not affect nonclinical workers, were effective April 7.

MUSC Health said in late June it has called back nearly half of the employees who had been furloughed.

57. Myrtue Medical Center (Harlan, Iowa)

The medical center furloughed a portion of its 422 employees in April due to a revenue drop from the pandemic. All of the furloughed employees have returned to work, according to a hospital spokesperson.

58. Niagara Falls (N.Y.) Memorial Hospital 

The hospital furloughed 52 employees in April to offset a revenue loss due to the pandemic. It received federal Paycheck Protection Program funding and was able to bring back all of its furloughed staff, a spokesperson for the hospital told Becker’s.

59. North Bend Medical Center (Coos Bay, Ore.)

North Bend Medical Center this spring furloughed 130 employees to prepare for the novel coronavirus pandemic.

According to John Burles, North Bend Medical Center CEO, most of the furloughed workers have been called back to work, but about 30 did not return, many of whom were offered their positions back. The hospital has been able to hire new people to fill some of those positions.

60. Northern Light Health (Brewer, Maine)

The health system asked staff to volunteer for furloughs in early April.

A spokesperson for Northern Light Health told Becker’s Aug. 31 that 187 employees were granted a voluntary furlough, the average length of which was 36 days. The last furloughed employee was slated to return Sept. 6.

61. Noyes Health (Dansville, N.Y.)

In April, Noyes Health furloughed some of its staff for one to two weeks on a rolling basis, citing a revenue decline of 50 percent due to the pandemic. All affected employees returned from furlough by June, and the health system’s budgeted revenue has bounced back into the upper 90 percent range for June and July, according to a spokesperson for the health system.

62. Olmsted Medical Center (Rochester, Minn.)

The medical center furloughed 200 people in April to offset the financial hit caused by the pandemic. All affected employees have returned to work, according to a spokesperson.

63. Pikeville (Ky.) Medical Center

The medical center furloughed more than 200 employees April 26 amid mounting financial pressure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most employees have returned to their positions, and the medical center is bringing back the fewer than three dozen remaining employees, according to a medical center spokesperson.

64. Premier Health (Dayton, Ohio)

The Dayton-based health system said this spring it would furlough an undisclosed number of employees due to an anticipated financial hit from Ohio’s interim ban on nonessential surgeries.

In response to Becker’s request for an update on furloughs, the organization provided a statement from the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association, which includes Premier Health, but is not specific to Premier Health.

“The Dayton region’s hospitals employ more than 34,000 individuals across our 11-county region. During COVID-19, 5,648 healthcare workers and hospital employees were temporarily furloughed due to Ohio’s executive order that suspended elective and nonessential surgeries. At this time, most furloughed employees have returned to work,” the hospital association stated.

65. Prisma Health (Greenville, S.C.)

Citing the financial hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, Prisma Health said it furloughed about 3,900 of its 30,000-person workforce this spring.

“We are on the front end of a long-term recovery effort, as is the entire U.S. economy. As we need staffing for patient care, we have continuously been recalling furloughed clinical staff or increasing hours for those team members whose hours were previously reduced. We do not have an update on the number of earlier announced furloughs or reduced hours because staffing is constantly shifting to accommodate the impact of COVID-19 as it ebbs and flows in our communities,” Prima Health told Becker’s Sept. 3.

66. Providence Oregon (Portland)

Providence Oregon implemented staff furloughs and leadership pay cuts to help offset financial losses attributed to the pandemic. At the time, the health system said its core leaders would take a one-week unpaid furlough between May 17 and July 31. In addition, the health system said caregivers would flex their hours during the same time period.

Providence Oregon has since seen its patient volumes recover to near-expected levels, with 95 percent of budgeted volume in June, the health system told Becker’s Sept. 3. Therefore, the health system has ended most patient-facing caregiver furloughs. “We continue to manage our operations during the pandemic based on the new economic realities,” Providence Oregon said.

67. St. Agnes Medical Center (Fresno, Calif.) 

The medical center furloughed 161 employees in April to better align its resources with the pandemic-induced reduction in services. As its volume has been slowly ramping up, it has brought back 94 of those employees.

“We’re hopeful this trend will continue so we can soon return even more,” a spokesperson for the medical center told Becker’s Aug 27.

68. St. Claire HealthCare (Morehead, Ky.)

St. Claire HealthCare announced in late March it would furlough 300 employees who are not involved in direct patient care to ensure it can sustain clinical operations during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

A hospital spokesperson told Becker’s Sept. 2: “We are very fortunate we have been able to return the vast majority of our furloughed staff to work.”

69. St. Joseph Health (Syracuse, N.Y.)

The hospital system furloughed about 500 workers to deal with an “unprecedented fiscal fallout” from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Syracuse.com.

St. Joseph’s Health brought back 135 workers as of June 1, according to Syracuse.com.

Most of the remaining furloughed employees have since been recalled back into employment, according to an Aug. 31 press release emailed to Becker’s.

70. St. Lawrence Health System (Potsdam, N.Y)

The three-hospital system temporarily furloughed 427 workers in April to help offset the revenue loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. By the end of June, 25 of those positions were permanently eliminated, all of which were full time and primarily at the management level.

71. St. Luke’s Hospital (Chesterfield, Mo.) 

St. Luke’s offered a voluntary furlough program to employees in May. A spokesperson told Becker’s Sept. 8 that about 300 employees accepted the offer and received paid benefits while they received unemployment insurance and the additional benefits provided by the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

The furlough program ended at the end of July, the hospital said, and most furloughed employees are back in their normal positions.

“For those whose normal positions were and are still impacted by the pandemic, they have the opportunity to be part of a COVID-19 screening pool to cover essential needs and to minimize reductions in their work schedules whenever possible,” the spokesperson said.

72. Sarasota (Fla.) Memorial Hospital

Sarasota Memorial Hospital furloughed 640 staff members in March and April as patient volumes dropped amid a statewide elective procedure ban.

A hospital spokesperson told Becker’s Sept. 3 that staff were brought back in phases as the ban was lifted and volume returned. Specifically, most employees were brought back in May and the rest returned by the end of June.

73. Scotland Health Care System (Laurinburg, N.C.)

The health system furloughed nearly 70 employees through June 30 due to a pandemic-induced drop in patient volume and revenue, according to The Laurinburg Exchange. Most affected employees work in nonclinical roles, though some front-line staff were furloughed. All furloughed employees have since returned to work, a human resources representative told Becker’s.

74. Sinai Health System (Chicago)

Crain’s Chicago Business reported the health system would lay off 24 nonclinical employees, furlough about 150 caregivers and cut hours for another 200 employees during April, citing a loss of $10 million per month due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All but 13 of Sinai’s furloughed employees have been brought back, according to the hospital’s spokesperson.

75. Stamford (Conn.) Health

Stamford Health furloughed 375 employees to help offset a revenue loss from the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of Aug. 31, five full-time employees are still on furlough, and the health system plans to bring those employees back, a spokesperson told Becker’s.

76. Stanford (Calif.) Health Care

Stanford Health Care’s Temporary Workforce Adjustment program, which began on April 27, required all exempt, non-represented employees, including executive leadership, to take 12 days off in a 10-week period or a pay reduction of 20 percent for the 10 weeks. More than 99 percent of its workforce chose to use paid time off. The program allowed all staff who did not have enough PTO hours to use hours they had not yet earned to maintain their pay level. Those who needed to were allowed to go into a negative PTO balance and earn the hours back.

The program ended for Service Employees International Union employees June 20 and ended for all other employees July 4. All furloughed employees have returned to their regularly scheduled hours, a spokesperson told Becker’s.

77. Stephens Memorial Hospital (Breckenridge, Texas)

Stephens Memorial Hospital furloughed a portion of its staff in April due to the pandemic.

The hospital was able to bring back all furloughed employees after a few weeks, a hospital spokesperson told Becker’s Aug. 31. “We have been fortunate to benefit from the programs that have been offered to help rural hospitals stay open during this time,” the spokesperson added. “Our volumes have consistently increased back up to or near pre-pandemic levels with the exception of our emergency department. They are still seeing about 60 percent of average based on historical data.”

78. Summa Health (Akron, Ohio) 

Throughout the spring, Summa Health furloughed 728 of its 7,200 employees in an effort to cut costs.

In August, the health system brought back the majority of the furloughed employees. As of Aug. 25, 12 employees remained on furlough, the health system told Becker’s.

79. Thomas Health (South Charleston, W.Va.)

Thomas Health, which had 1,663 employees at the start of the pandemic, furloughed 584 of those staff members.

Due to attrition and reorganization, the health system brought back all but 80 employees, a health system spokesperson told Becker’s Sept. 2.”Since then, we have already hired 50 new full-time employees,” the spokesperson added.  

80. Tower Health (Philadelphia)

In April, the seven-hospital system furloughed at least 1,000 employees due to the financial hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting roughly 7 percent of the system’s 14,000-person workforce. In a Sept. 2 email, a Tower Health spokesperson told Becker’s “almost all staff furloughed in April have been recalled.” 

81. Trinity Health (Livonia, Mich.), which includes Trinity Health of New England (Hartford, Conn.)

Trinity Health, a 92-hospital system, implemented furloughs across its network. At its Michigan hospitals, 2,500 employees were furloughed this spring, while an undisclosed number of employees were furloughed at Trinity Health of New England.

In July, the health system said it would lay off and reduce work schedules of 1,000 employees.

A Trinity Health spokesperson told Becker’s Sept. 3: “Our staffing reductions were less than 3 percent of our workforce nationally, which is much lower than we originally anticipated would be required due to stronger-than-expected resurgence of patient volume. Many furloughed colleagues have either returned to work or are anticipated to return to work as patient volumes grow.”

82. UK Healthcare (Lexington, Ky.) 

The health system furloughed 1,500 employees to help offset a COVID-19-related revenue loss in April. Only two of the affected employees remain on a partial furlough, which is one day per week, a UK Healthcare spokesperson told Becker’s in a Sept. 2 email.

83. UnityPoint Health (West Des Moines, Iowa)

The health system began implementing furloughs April 26, which affected employees in areas of the system that were operating at capacity or experiencing closures. Most of them have been brought back.

“UnityPoint Health has returned more than 95 percent of our team members from furlough and has reinstated our standard pay practices,” a spokesperson said in a Sept. 1 email. “We continue to evaluate opportunities to respond to the rapidly evolving dynamics of the pandemic including executive benefit offerings and other options. Our top priority remains the health and safety of our team members, patients and communities.”

84. University Hospitals (Cleveland)

The health system cut the hours and pay of 4,100 employees not involved in patient care in April, all of whom have since returned to work.

“Furloughs for nonclinical caregivers were temporary and involved 20 percent reduction in hours over a 10-week period,” a system representative told Becker’s. “Our caregivers continued to receive benefits and were eligible to continue pay by using earned or borrowed paid time off. UH leaders in clinical and nonclinical positions continued to work through the 10-week period at reduced levels of pay. The temporary furloughs have ended, and all of our caregivers are focused on restoring care for our patients that may have been delayed because of the pandemic.” 

85. University of Chicago Medical Center  

University of Chicago Medical Center furloughed more than 800 employees in May.

A hospital spokesperson told Becker’s Aug. 26 the furloughs have ended, and no other layoffs or further furloughs have been announced.

86. University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus (Topeka)

The University of Kansas Health System in April laid off 29 employees and furloughed 235 to help offset the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In mid-June, the health system restructured and consolidated some services and laid off 33 employees to manage the effect of COVID-19. The 33 affected employees represent about 2.3 percent of the hospital’s workforce, and most had already been put on furlough.

Becker’s reached out to the University of Kansas Health System to provide an update on whether the remaining furloughed employees have been brought back.

87. University of Vermont Medical Center (Burlington)

University of Vermont Medical Center furloughed hundreds of employees this year. More than 660 employees were affected by furlough at some point, with numbers fluctuating throughout the spring and summer as some redeployed into new positions, such as screening employees and patients for COVID-19 symptoms at hospital entrances, or assisting colleagues with proper PPE usage, a spokesperson told Becker’s Sept. 8.

The medical center has recalled more than 400 employees to their normal roles amid the resumption of nonurgent and routine procedures. The spokesperson said nearly all affected employees will be back in their normal roles by the end of September.

88. UW Medicine (Seattle)

UW Medicine announced furloughs of approximately 1,500 professional and non-union staff members in May. It also announced furloughs of approximately 4,000 union employees in May and layoffs of 100 staff members in July due to financial challenges from the pandemic.

The health system told Becker’s Aug. 26 that 260 staff furloughs were canceled, either due to increased patient volumes or a need for staff coverage.

89. Vidant Health (Greenville, N.C.)

To address the financial hit and patient volume dip caused by the pandemic, the health system furloughed 212 of its employees. A Vidant Health spokesperson told Becker’s in a Sept. 2 email that 207 of them had returned to work.

90. Virginia Mason Medical Center (Seattle)

Virginia Mason Medical Center furloughed an undisclosed number of employees this spring amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the affected employees were in nonclinical roles.

A Virginia Mason spokesperson said the hospital system has resumed services in compliance with Washington state’s guidelines, and some furloughed workers have returned to work.

“While some team members who were temporarily furloughed during the peak of the pandemic have returned to work, I am unable to provide specific figures or percentages,” a hospital spokesperson told Becker’s Sept. 3.

91. Washington Regional Medical Center (Fayetteville, Ark.) 

In April, the hospital furloughed 305 full-time employees to help offset revenue losses tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of those employees, 288 had been brought back by late July and the remaining workers returned to work by Aug. 2.

Natalie Hardin, director of marketing and public relations at the hospital, told Becker’sthat a small number of the furloughed workers resigned or found other jobs. No employees remain on furlough as of Aug. 25.

“This does not mean that Washington Regional’s pandemic related revenue troubles are over — far from it. The pandemic presents an unpredictable challenge that we recognize will remain with us for some time to come. As a result, we will continue to focus on our financial and clinical operations to ensure that our health system is on a sound footing now and into the future,” CEO Larry Shackelford said in a statement.

92. West Tennessee Healthcare (Jackson)

West Tennessee Healthcare furloughed 1,100 individuals of its 7,000-person workforce. The health system said it lost $18 million in March due to the statewide ban on elective procedures that went into effect March 23.

“We have three employees who still aren’t working their normal hours, but the other employees who were furloughed are working,” a spokesperson wrote in a Sept. 1 email to Becker’s.

 

 

 

 

Have we forgotten the true meaning of Labor Day?

https://theconversation.com/have-we-forgotten-the-true-meaning-of-labor-day-64526

Labor Day is a U.S. national holiday held the first Monday every September. Unlike most U.S. holidays, it is a strange celebration without rituals, except for shopping and barbecuing. For most people it simply marks the last weekend of summer and the start of the school year.

The holiday’s founders in the late 1800s envisioned something very different from what the day has become. The founders were looking for two things: a means of unifying union workers and a reduction in work time.

History of Labor Day

The first Labor Day occurred in 1882 in New York City under the direction of that city’s Central Labor Union.

In the 1800s, unions covered only a small fraction of workers and were balkanized and relatively weak. The goal of organizations like the Central Labor Union and more modern-day counterparts like the AFL-CIO was to bring many small unions together to achieve a critical mass and power. The organizers of the first Labor Day were interested in creating an event that brought different types of workers together to meet each other and recognize their common interests.

However, the organizers had a large problem: No government or company recognized the first Monday in September as a day off work. The issue was solved temporarily by declaring a one-day strike in the city. All striking workers were expected to march in a parade and then eat and drink at a giant picnic afterwards.

The New York Tribune’s reporter covering the event felt the entire day was like one long political barbecue, with “rather dull speeches.”

Why was Labor Day invented?

Labor Day came about because workers felt they were spending too many hours and days on the job.

In the 1830s, manufacturing workers were putting in 70-hour weeks on average. Sixty years later, in 1890, hours of work had dropped, although the average manufacturing worker still toiled in a factory 60 hours a week.

These long working hours caused many union organizers to focus on winning a shorter eight-hour work day. They also focused on getting workers more days off, such as the Labor Day holiday, and reducing the workweek to just six days.

These early organizers clearly won since the most recent data show that the average person working in manufacturing is employed for a bit over 40 hours a week and most people work only five days a week.

Surprisingly, many politicians and business owners were actually in favor of giving workers more time off. That’s because workers who had no free time were not able to spend their wages on traveling, entertainment or dining out.

As the U.S. economy expanded beyond farming and basic manufacturing in the late 1800s and early 1900s, it became important for businesses to find consumers interested in buying the products and services being produced in ever greater amounts. Shortening the work week was one way of turning the working class into the consuming class.

Common misconceptions

The common misconception is that since Labor Day is a national holiday, everyone gets the day off. Nothing could be further from the truth.

While the first Labor Day was created by striking, the idea of a special holiday for workers was easy for politicians to support. It was easy because proclaiming a holiday, like Mother’s Day, costs legislators nothing and benefits them by currying favor with voters. In 1887, Oregon, Colorado, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey all declared a special legal holiday in September to celebrate workers.

Within 12 years, half the states in the country recognized Labor Day as a holiday. It became a national holiday in June 1894 when President Grover Cleveland signed the Labor Day bill into law. While most people interpreted this as recognizing the day as a national vacation, Congress’ proclamation covers only federal employees. It is up to each state to declare its own legal holidays.

Moreover, proclaiming any day an official holiday means little, as an official holiday does not require private employers and even some government agencies to give their workers the day off. Many stores are open on Labor Day. Essential government services in protection and transportation continue to function, and even less essential programs like national parks are open. Because not everyone is given time off on Labor Day, union workers as recently as the 1930s were being urged to stage one-day strikes if their employer refused to give them the day off.

In the president’s annual Labor Day declaration last year, Obama encouraged Americans “to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities that honor the contributions and resilience of working Americans.”

The proclamation, however, does not officially declare that anyone gets time off.

Controversy: Militants and founders

Today most people in the U.S. think of Labor Day as a noncontroversial holiday.

There is no family drama like at Thanksgiving, no religious issues like at Christmas. However, 100 years ago there was controversy.

The first controversy that people fought over was how militant workers should act on a day designed to honor workers. Communist, Marxist and socialist members of the trade union movement supported May 1 as an international day of demonstrations, street protests and even violence, which continues even today.

More moderate trade union members, however, advocated for a September Labor Day of parades and picnics. In the U.S., picnics, instead of street protests, won the day.

There is also dispute over who suggested the idea. The earliest history from the mid-1930s credits Peter J. McGuire, who founded the New York City Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, in 1881 with suggesting a date that would fall “nearly midway between the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving” that “would publicly show the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations.”

Later scholarship from the early 1970s makes an excellent case that Matthew Maguire, a representative from the Machinists Union, actually was the founder of Labor Day. However, because Matthew Maguire was seen as too radical, the more moderate Peter McGuire was given the credit.

Who actually came up with the idea will likely never be known, but you can vote online here to express your view.

Have we lost the spirit of Labor Day?

Today Labor Day is no longer about trade unionists marching down the street with banners and their tools of trade. Instead, it is a confused holiday with no associated rituals.

The original holiday was meant to handle a problem of long working hours and no time off. Although the battle over these issues would seem to have been won long ago, this issue is starting to come back with a vengeance, not for manufacturing workers but for highly skilled white-collar workers, many of whom are constantly connected to work.

If you work all the time and never really take a vacation, start a new ritual that honors the original spirit of Labor Day. Give yourself the day off. Don’t go in to work. Shut off your phone, computer and other electronic devices connecting you to your daily grind. Then go to a barbecue, like the original participants did over a century ago, and celebrate having at least one day off from work during the year!

 

 

 

 

Labor Day 2020

https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/labor-day-1

Labor Day Purpose and History

Labor Day 2020 will occur on Monday, September 7. Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers and is traditionally observed on the first Monday in September. It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894. Labor Day weekend also symbolizes the end of summer for many Americans, and is celebrated with parties, street parades and athletic events.

Why Do We Celebrate Labor Day?

Labor Day, an annual celebration of workers and their achievements, originated during one of American labor history’s most dismal chapters.

In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages.

People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities and breaks.

As manufacturing increasingly supplanted agriculture as the wellspring of American employment, labor unions, which had first appeared in the late 18th century, grew more prominent and vocal. They began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay.

Many of these events turned violent during this period, including the infamous Haymarket Riot of 1886, in which several Chicago policemen and workers were killed. Others gave rise to longstanding traditions: On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.

The idea of a “workingmen’s holiday,” celebrated on the first Monday in September, caught on in other industrial centers across the country, and many states passed legislation recognizing it. Congress would not legalize the holiday until 12 years later, when a watershed moment in American labor history brought workers’ rights squarely into the public’s view. On May 11, 1894, employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on strike to protest wage cuts and the firing of union representatives.

On June 26, the American Railroad Union, led by Eugene V. Debs, called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars, crippling railroad traffic nationwide. To break the Pullman strike, the federal government dispatched troops to Chicago, unleashing a wave of riots that resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen workers.

The History behind Labor Day - YouTube

Who Created Labor Day?

In the wake of this massive unrest and in an attempt to repair ties with American workers, Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories. On June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed it into law. More than a century later, the true founder of Labor Day has yet to be identified.

Many credit Peter J. McGuire, cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, while others have suggested that Matthew Maguire, a secretary of the Central Labor Union, first proposed the holiday.

Labor Day Celebrations

Labor Day is still celebrated in cities and towns across the United States with parades, picnics, barbecues, fireworks displays and other public gatherings. For many Americans, particularly children and young adults, it represents the end of the summer and the start of the back-to-school season.

 

 

 

 

What it’s like to be a nurse after 6 months of COVID-19 response

https://www.healthcaredive.com/trendline/labor/28/?utm_source=HD&utm_medium=Library&utm_campaign=Vituity&utm_term=Healthcare%20Dive#story-2

Those on the front lines of the fight against the novel coronavirus worry about keeping themselves, their families and their patients safe.

This story is part of a series examining the state of healthcare six months into the public health emergency declared for COVID-19.

There’s no end in sight for the country as it grapples with another surge of COVID-19 cases.

That’s especially true for nurses seeking the reprieve of their hospitals returning to normal operations sometime this year. Many in the South and West are now treating ICUs full of COVID-19 patients they hoped would never arrive in their states, largely spared from spring’s first wave.

And like many other essential workers, those in healthcare are falling ill and dying from COVID-19. The total number of nurses stricken by the virus is still unclear, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 106,180 cases and 552 deaths among healthcare workers. That’s almost certainly an undercount.

National Nurses United, the country’s largest nurses union, told Healthcare Dive it has counted 165 nurse deaths from COVID-19 and an additional 1,060 healthcare worker deaths.

Safety concerns have ignited union activity among healthcare workers during the pandemic, and also given them an opportunity to punctuate labor issues that aren’t new, like nurse-patient ratios, adequate pay and racial equality.

At the same time, the hospitals they work for are facing some of their worst years yet financially, after months of delayed elective procedures and depleted volumes that analysts predict will continue through the year. Many have instituted furloughs and layoffs or other workforce reduction measures.

Healthcare Dive had in-depth conversations with three nurses to get a clearer picture of how they’re faring amid the once-in-a-century pandemic. Here’s what they said.

 

Elizabeth Lalasz, registered nurse, John H. Stroger Hospital in Chicago

Elizabeth Lalasz has worked at John H. Stroger Hospital in Chicago for the past 10 years. Her hospital is a safety net facility, catering to those who are “Black, Latinx, the homeless, inmates,” Lalasz told Healthcare Dive. “People who don’t actually receive the kind of healthcare they should in this country.”

Data from the CDC show racial and ethnic minority groups are at increased risk of getting COVID-19 or experiencing severe illness, regardless of age, due to long-standing systemic health and social inequities.

CDC data reveal that Black people are five times more likely to contract the virus than white people.

This spring Lalasz treated inmates from the Cook County Jail, an epicenter in the city and also the country. “That population gradually decreased, and then we just had COVID patients, many of them Latinx families,” she said.

Permission granted by Elizabeth Lalasz

Once Chicago’s curve began to flatten and the hospital could take non-COVID patients, those coming in for treatment were desperately sick. They’d been delaying care for non-COVID conditions, worried a trip to the hospital could risk infection.

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted in May found that 48% of Americans said they or a family member had skipped or delayed medical care because of the pandemic. And 11% said the person’s condition worsened as a result of the delayed care.

When patients do come into Lalasz’s hospital, many have “chest pain, then they also have diabetes, asthma, hypertension and obesity, it just adds up,” she said.

“So now we’re also treating people who’ve been delaying care. But after the recent southern state surges, the hospital census started going down again,” she said.

Amy Arlund, registered nurse, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fresno, California:

Amy Arlund works the night shift at Kaiser Fresno as an ICU nurse, which she’s done for the past two decades.

She’s also on the hospital’s infection control committee, where for years she’s fought to control the spread of clostridium difficile colitis, or C. diff., in her facility. The highly infectious disease can live on surfaces outside the body for months or sometimes years.

The measures Arlund developed to control C. diff served as her litmus test, as “the top, most stringent protocols we could adhere to,” when coronavirus patients arrived at her hospital, she told Healthcare Dive.

But when COVID-19 cases surged in northern states this spring, “it’s like all those really strict isolation protocols that prior to COVID showing up would be disciplinable offenses were gone,” Arlund said.

Widespread personal protective equipment shortages at the start of the pandemic led the CDC and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to change their longstanding guidance on when to use N95 respirator masks, which have long been the industry standard when dealing with novel infectious diseases.

The CDC also issued guidance for N95 respirator reuse, an entirely new concept to nurses like Arlund who say those changes go against everything they learned in school.

“I think the biggest change is we always relied on science, and we have always relied heavily on infection control protocols to guide our practice,” Arlund said. “Now infection control is out of control, we can no longer rely on the information and resources we always have.”

Permission granted by Amy Arlund

The CDC says experts are still learning how the coronavirus spreads, though person-to-person transmission is most common, while the World Health Organization recently acknowledged that it wouldn’t rule out airborne transmission of the virus.

In Arlund’s ICU, she’s taken care of dozens of COVID positive patients and patients ruled out for coronavirus, she said. After a first wave in the beginning of April, cases dropped, but are now rising again.

Other changing guidance weighing heavily on nurses is how to effectively treat coronavirus patients.

“Are we doing remdesivir this week or are we going back to the hydroxychloroquine, or giving them convalescent plasma?”Arlund said. “Next week I’m going to be giving them some kind of lavender enema, who knows.”

 

Erik Andrews, registered nurse, Riverside Community Hospital in Riverside, California:

Erik Andrews, a rapid response nurse at Riverside Community Hospital in California, has treated coronavirus patients since the pandemic started earlier this year. He likens ventilating them to diffusing a bomb.

“These types of procedures generate a lot of aerosols, you have to do everything in perfectly stepwise fashion, otherwise you’re going to endanger yourself and endanger your colleagues,” Andrews, who’s been at Riverside for the past 13 years, told Healthcare Dive.

He and about 600 other nurses at the hospital went on strike for 10 days this summer after a staffing agreement between the hospital and its owner, HCA Healthcare, and SEIU Local 121RN, the union representing RCH nurses, ended without a renewal.

The nurses said it would lead to too few nurses treating too many patients during a pandemic. Insufficient PPE and recycling of single-use PPE were also putting nurses and patients at risk, the union said, and another reason for the strike.

But rapidly changing guidance around PPE use and generally inconsistent information from public officials are now making the nurses at his hospital feel apathetic.

“Unfortunately I feel like in the past few weeks it’s gotten to the point where you have to remind people about putting on their respirator instead of face mask, so people haven’t gotten lax, but definitely kind of become desensitized compared to when we first started,” Andrews said.

Permission granted by Erik Andrews

With two children at home, Andrews slept in a trailer in his driveway for 12 weeks when he first started treating coronavirus patients. The trailer is still there, just in case, but after testing negative twice he felt he couldn’t spend any more time away from his family.

He still worries though, especially about his coworkers’ families. Some coworkers he’s known for over a decade, including one staff member who died from COVID-19 related complications.

“It’s people you know and you know that their families worry about them every day,” he said. “So to know that they’ve had to deal with that loss is pretty horrifying, and to know that could happen to my family too.”

 

 

 

 

Pandemic spurs national union activity among hospital workers

https://www.healthcaredive.com/trendline/labor/28/?utm_source=HD&utm_medium=Library&utm_campaign=Vituity&utm_term=Healthcare%20Dive#story-1

When COVID-19 cases swelled in New York and other northern states this spring, Erik Andrews, a rapid response nurse at Riverside Community Hospital in southern California, thought his hospital should have enough time to prepare for the worst.

Instead, he said his hospital faced staffing cuts and a lack of adequate personal protective equipment that led around 600 of its nurses to strike for 10 days starting in late June, just before negotiating a new contract with the hospital and its owner, Nashville-based HCA Healthcare.

“To feel like you were just put out there on the front lines with as minimal support necessary was incredibly disheartening,” Andrews said. Two employees at RCH have died from COVID-19, according to SEIU Local 121RN, the union representing them.

A spokesperson for HCA told Healthcare Dive the “strike has very little to do with the best interest of their members and everything to do with contract negotiations.”

Across the country, the pandemic is exacerbating labor tensions with nurses and other healthcare workers, leading to a string of disputes around what health systems are doing to keep front-line staff safe. The workers’ main concerns are adequate staffing and PPE. Ongoing or upcoming contract negotiations could boost their leverage.

But many of the systems that employ these workers are themselves stressed in a number of ways, above all financially, after months of delayed elective procedures and depleted volumes. Many have instituted furloughs and layoffs or other workforce reduction measures.

Striking a balance between doing union action at hospitals and continuing care for patients could be an ongoing challenge, Patricia Campos-Medina, co-director of New York State AFL-CIO/Cornell Union Leadership Institute.

“The nurses association has been very active since the beginning of the crisis, demanding PPE and doing internal activities in their hospitals demanding proper procedures,” Campos-Medina said. “They are front-line workers, so they have to be thoughtful in how they continue to provide care but also protect themselves and their patients.”

At Prime Healthcare’s Encino Hospital Medical Center, just outside Los Angeles, medical staff voted to unionize July 5, a week after the hospital laid off about half of its staff, including its entire clinical lab team, according to SEIU Local 121RN, which now represents those workers.

One of the first things the newly formed union will fight is “the unjust layoffs of their colleagues,” it said in a statement.

A Prime Healthcare spokesperson told Healthcare Dive 25 positions were cut. “These Encino positions were not part of front-line care and involved departments such as HR, food services, and lab services,” the system said.

Hospital service workers elsewhere who already have bargaining rights are also bringing attention to what they deem as staffing and safety issues.

In Chicago, workers at Loretto Hospital voted to authorize a strike Thursday. Those workers include patient care technicians, emergency room technicians, mental health staff and dietary and housekeeping staff, according to SEIU Healthcare Illinois, the union that represents them. They’ve been bargaining with hospital management for a new contract since December and plan to go on strike July 20.

Loretto Hospital is a safety-net facility, catering primarily to “Black and Brown West Side communities plagued with disproportionate numbers of COVID illnesses and deaths in recent months,” the union said.

The “Strike For Black Lives” is in response to “management’s failure to bargain in good faith on critical issues impacting the safety and well-being of both workers and patients — including poverty level wages and short staffing,” according to the union.

A Loretto spokesperson told Healthcare Dive the system is hopeful that continuing negotiations will bring an agreement, though it’s “planning as if a strike is eminent and considering the best options to continue to provide healthcare services to our community.”

Meanwhile in Joliet, Illinois, more than 700 nurses at Amita St. Joseph Medical Center went on strike July 4.

The Illinois Nurses Association which represents Amita nurses, cited ongoing concerns about staff and patient safety during the pandemic, namely adequate PPE, nurse-to-patient ratios and sick pay, they want addressed in the next contract. They are currently bargaining for a new one, and said negotiations stalled. The duration of the strike is still unclear.

However, a hospital spokesperson told Healthcare Dive, “Negotiations have been ongoing with proposals and counter proposals exchanged.”

The hospital’s most recent proposal “was not accepted, but negotiations will continue,” the system said.

INA is also upset with Amita’s recruitment of out-of-state nurses to replace striking ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It sent a letter to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, asserting the hospital used “emergency permits that are intended only for responding to the pandemic for purposes of aiding the hospital in a labor dispute.”

 

 

 

 

Amazon Is Hiring an Intelligence Analyst to Track ‘Labor Organizing Threats’

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/qj4aqw/amazon-hiring-intelligence-analyst-to-track-labor-organizing-threats?fbclid=IwAR2HPsGNDFctpmNzBb_6Su9yof5SN_ke-E9cG0vHwgseLJw8UaQmarmGoPk

Amazon is looking to hire two people who can focus on keeping tabs on labor activists within the company.

Amazon is looking to hire two intelligence analysts to track “labor organizing threats” within the company.

The company recently posted two job listings for analysts that can keep an eye on sensitive and confidential topics “including labor organizing threats against the company.” Amazon is looking to hire an “Intelligence Analyst” and a “Sr Intelligence Analyst” for its Global Security Operations’ (GSO) Global Intelligence Program (GIP), the team that’s responsible for physical and corporate security operations such as insider threats and industrial espionage. 

The job ads list several kinds of threats, such as “protests, geopolitical crises, conflicts impacting operations,” but focuses on “organized labor” in particular, mentioning it three times in one of the listings. 

Amazon has historically been hostile to workers attempting to form a union or organize any kind of collective action. Last year, an Amazon spokesperson accused unions of exploiting Prime Day “to raise awareness to their cause” and increase membership dues. Earlier this year, the company fired Christian Smalls, a Black employee who led a protest at a fulfillment center in New York over Amazon’s inadequate safety measures in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. During a meeting with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, company executives discussed plans to smear Smalls calling him “not smart, or articulate.”  

These job listings show Amazon sees labor organizing as one of the biggest threats to its existence.

Do you work at Amazon, did you used to, or do you know anything else about the company? We’d love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai securely on Signal at +1 917 257 1382, on Wickr at lorenzofb, OTR chat at lorenzofb@jabber.ccc.de, or email lorenzofb@vice.com.

After this story was published, Amazon deleted the job listings and company spokesperson Maria Boschetti said in an email that “the job post was not an accurate description of the role— it was made in error and has since been corrected.” The spokesperson did not respond to follow-up questions about the alleged mistake. The job listing, according to Amazon’s own job portal, had been up since January 6, 2020.

Dania Rajendra, the Director of the Athena Coalition, an alliance of dozens of grassroots labor groups that organize amazon workers, criticized the listing.

“Workers, especially Black workers, have been telling us all for months that Amazon is targeting them for speaking out. This job description is proof that Amazon intends to continue on this course,” Rajendra told Motherboard in a statement. “The public deserves to know whether Amazon will continue to fill these positions, even if they’re no longer publicly posted.”

On Monday, the Open Markets Institute, a nonprofit that studies monopolies, published a report on Amazon’s employee surveillance efforts, claiming that these practices “create a harsh and dehumanizing working environment that produces a constant state of fear, as well as physical and mental anguish.” 

After a week of the jobs being posted online, 71 people have applied to the Intelligence Analyst position, and 24 people to the Sr Intelligence Analyst job, according to Linkedin. The first job was posted in the Amazon Jobs portal in January, the second job on July 21, according to the company’s site.

UPDATE Sept. 1, 12:04 p.m. ET: Shortly after this story was published, Amazon removed the listings from its job portal.

 

 

 

 

Battle over COVID-19 school openings goes to the courts

https://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/514196-battle-over-covid-19-school-openings-goes-to-the-courts

Nearly 800 COVID-19 lawsuits have been filed, according to law firm's  tracker

Teachers unions are waging court fights across the country aimed at unwinding what they say are unsafe and politically motivated timetables for reopening schools that risk exposing personnel to the coronavirus pandemic.

State officials eager to ramp up brick-and-mortar operations are facing lawsuits from Florida to Texas to Iowa over reopening plans as well as access to the COVID-19 infection data needed to monitor the rate of spread within school communities. 

At the same time, lawsuits are flying from the opposition direction: Parents in several states, including New York, Massachusetts and Oregon, dissatisfied with web-based teaching alternatives, are suing to force state officials to reopen physical schools sooner as courts are increasingly called upon to referee the fight over education in the age of coronavirus.

“A legal storm is brewing as safety and social distancing requirements for a physical return to school begin to take shape around the country,” Maria Ferguson, executive director of the Center on Education Policy at George Washington University, wrote on the education website The 74.

As millions of students prepare for the first day of school — whether in-person, remote or a hybrid of the two — the fight over the reopening physical school buildings is likely to intensify.

The debate over in-person K-12 instruction planning is inseparably tied to the issues of child care needs and parents’ ability to return to the workforce to help revive the struggling economy, all of which is playing out against the backdrop of a fast-approaching November election in a country that has seen nearly 6 million cases and more than 181,000 deaths from COVID-19.

Perhaps the highest-profile legal battle is taking place in the courts of Florida, where Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed off last month on an emergency order over school reopenings.

Under the order, most Florida school districts would be required to hold in-person classes five days a week by the end of August or risk losing funding. President Trump, who counts DeSantis as a close ally, has also threatened to cut off federal funding for schools if they do not resume in-person learning this fall.

The Florida policy prompted a lawsuit from the Florida Education Association (FEA), a statewide teachers union, and several other plaintiffs in favor of a more cautious return to in-person teaching.

“Public schools are not designed for COVID safety, and indeed, the government has recognized that they are high-contact environments,” said Kendall Coffey, the lead plaintiff’s attorney in the Florida case, who likened prematurely opened schools to “disease factories” and called the Florida policy “financial bullying.”

There are any number of issues, in terms of hallway sizes, the flow of students in and out of classrooms, ventilation, even how many students go into the bathroom,” he told The Hill. “There are many elements that are virtually impossible to guarantee when you’re dealing with children in large amounts.”

On Aug. 24, a Florida judge ruled in favor of the union and temporarily halted the statewide order. In his decision, Judge Charles Dodson struck down the order’s unconstitutional provisions and blasted DeSantis for having “essentially ignored” the state’s constitutional requirement that schools be operated safely.

“The districts have no meaningful alternative,” wrote Dodson, of Leon County. “If an individual school district chooses safety, that is, delaying the start of schools until it individually determines it is safe to do so for its county, it risks losing state funding, even though every student is being taught.”

A Florida appeals court agreed to temporarily halt Judge Dodson’s order from taking effect while DeSantis appeals.

The state contends that the benefit of in-person instruction outweighs the health risks associated with reopening brick-and-mortar schools. Some Florida school officials have also declined to disclose incidents of positive COVID-19 cases to school communities, citing the need for patient privacy. 

Attorneys for Florida have also argued in hearings that courts should not substitute their judgment for that of policymakers who have balanced all the equities and decided a prompt in-person reopening is the best policy.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), one of the largest teachers unions in the country, said Florida has its priorities backward.

“What their arguments show is that they don’t care about human life,” Weingarten told The Hill.

According to Weingarten, internal AFT polling in June showed that about 3 in 4 teachers said they would be comfortable returning to the classroom if guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were implemented in schools.

But she predicts that attitudes among teachers have shifted dramatically in past months as the Trump administration has failed to adequately manage the virus to ensure schools can be reopened safely.

“We’re polling right now,” she said. “And my hunch is that just like the public polls, it’s totally flipped.”

The AFT is backing lawsuits in Florida, New Mexico and Texas. Before schools can reopen safely — for what Weingarten calls “the biggest move indoors that the nation has done since March” — the group says local positivity rates should be below 3 percent and schools should have visibility into daily transmission rates. 

The union is also pushing for protocols that involve testing, contact tracing and isolation and implement best practices from the CDC for things such as ventilation, cleaning, physical distancing, mask-wearing and other safeguards.

As teachers unions make their case in court, parents in at least five states have filed lawsuits of their own to accelerate school reopenings.

A nonprofit litigation group called the Center for American Liberty, co-founded by lawyer and GOP official Harmeet Dhillon, is backing one such suit in California. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s restrictions on in-person school openings in the Golden State will affect an estimated 80 percent of K-12 students.

“The effects of this ham-handed policy are as predictable as they are tragic,” the lawsuit filed in a federal court in California states. “Hundreds of thousands of students will essentially drop out of school, whether because they lack the technological resources to engage with ‘online learning’ or because their parents cannot assist them.”

The litigation raises concerns about everything from school closures exacerbating the achievement gap and disproportionately harming special needs students and those without convenient internet access to challenges over the constitutional validity of government health orders.

Weingarten, of AFT, said it’s important to remember that despite seemingly irreconcilable differences over the policy details, all parties want to see schools reopen as soon as it’s safe to do so.

“None of us believes that remote is a substitute,” she said. “It’s a supplement.”