Providence St. Peter Hospital may have planned to be a holiday Grinch, giving Health Unit Coordinators notice of job cuts that were to happen as soon as December 16, but caregivers together took legal action with their union, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, and today a Federal court has blocked Providence’s plan.
“This sends a clear message that what Providence is doing is wrong,” said Alissa Kautz, a Health Unit Coordinator at St. Pete’s. “The way Providence treats its staff is unacceptable, and the fact they tried to do this just before the holidays shows how they feel. If they don’t care about their staff, they don’t care about their patients. They’re not living their core values.”
Providence St. Peter currently employs about 80 Health Unit Coordinators. The Health Unit Coordinators play a key role in facilitating patient care by answering calls from physicians and patients’ loved ones, arranging admits and discharges, coordinating patient transport, scheduling labs and tests, and more. Registered Nurses, Health Unit Coordinators and other caregivers at the hospital had signed a letter to the hospital expressing concerns over the impact of the staffing cuts on the medical units of the hospital.
In addition to eliminating some Health Unit Coordinators, Providence intends to unilaterally move these caregivers from 8-hour shifts to 12-hour shifts, resulting in job losses and a life-altering schedule change in the middle of the holidays for the remaining caregivers.
“I’ve been at Providence for 16 years,” said Kautz. “Seeing people with lower seniority than me have this upheaval in their life is very distressing. Whether they have been here 6 months or six years, these are people we work with and value. This restructure would have impacted everybody.”
The temporary restraining order, issued by the Honorable Judge Leighton of the United States District Court – Western Washington, stops any layoff or restructure and orders Providence to appear in court on December 26.