BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A strike by about 150 medical techs against St. Charles Health System entered its third day Saturday with no outward signs of resolution ahead of a scheduled Wednesday session with a federal mediator.
The Oregon Federation of Nursing and Health Professionals disputed St. Charles’ claim that the Bend hospital was functioning normally. It said the hospital has refused to negotiate before the midweek session and that patient care was “suffering.”
“That simply is not true,” St. Charles Public Information Officer Lisa Goodman told NewsChannel 21 Saturday, pointing to the hospital’s Friday statement that “patient care is proceeding as normal,” with the use of replacement workers.
“We would like to go back to work to support our patients, but the hospital won’t even negotiate with us,” DeeDee Schumacher, a 40-year employee at St. Charles, said in Saturday’s OFNHP news release. “It should be their top priority to keep the hospital in working order, so it is baffling why they would force a strike and do nothing to bring it to an end.”
Likewise, St. Charles nurses are also raising concerns, the union noted.
“The claim that the ‘hospital is open and providing care as usual’ made by hospital administration is not accurate, and it is simply impossible given the current circumstances,” RN Corey Sattler said. “There are replacement surgical and radiology technicians on site, but they are not trained to the level that our native techs are as to the equipment, policies, best practices, and staff.”
“These serious concerns have not been addressed by hospital management, who are refusing to deal with the patient-care issues their decisions have brought about,” the union stated. “The OFNHP-represented techs have made it clear they would rather be in the hospital taking care of their community, than on a picket line asking for their community’s support.”
The OFNHP added, “St. Charles has refused to bargain since Dec. 3, when they canceled all future negotiations, and continues to refuse, even though the union has stated in no uncertain terms that they’ll meet to bargain anytime, anywhere.”
“This means that St. Charles would allow the hospital to be understaffed for a full week before even attempting to settle the dispute,” the union continued. “Over the past two days, hundreds have shown support, including every major labor union in Oregon, residents and community leaders in Bend, and political leaders like Senator Jeff Merkley, Representative Jason Kropf, and Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel.”