St. Charles affirms care is ‘proceeding as normal’ despite med techs’ strike

By TED TAYLOR
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

As a St. Charles medical tech strike moved into its second day Friday, hospital officials said “patient care is proceeding as normal.”

But a nurse inside the hospital said that’s not accurate and his colleagues are skeptical of the skills and training of the replacement workers now on site.

About 150 radiology techs, ultrasound techs, therapists and technologists walked off the job Thursday morning afer the hospital and Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals union failed to reach an agreement on a first contract.

The two sides had been negotiating for more than a year before the union gave the hospital a 10-day strike notice last month.

They haven’t met since.

In a statement Friday, St. Charles President Aaron Adams said he looked forward to getting the situation resolved and welcoming the caregivers back.

Meanwhile, the hospital has contracted with replacement workers while the strike continues.

“Each person is thoroughly vetted by the agency and StCharles to ensure they have the proper qualifications and work experience to competently perform their role,” said Vice President of Human Resources Rebecca Berry. “Additionally, they go through an on-site onboarding process.”

Corey Sattler a local nurse and an Oregon Nurses Association union bargaining leader at St. Charles said the replacements aren’t trained to the level of the techs who walked out Thursday.

“Because of this, the nurses at St. Charles are highly skeptical that the high level of care and competence we had previously is obtainable by these temporary workers whose training, skill levels, and practices are unknown,” he said.

St. Charles medical techs strike; 150+ walk off the job over contract dispute

The hospital’s statement said it scheduled limited surgical procedures for Thursday and Friday, and some cases were moved to StCharles Redmond.

Sattler said he was aware of at least one surgery that had to be canceled because the regular techs weren’t available.

“Otherwise the surgeons have been working with what they have been provided,” Sattler told Central Oregon Daily News. “It’s certainly not optimal or the best we could be doing.”

Sattler said patient care on Thursday was “practically non-existent due to the decrease in surgeries.”

He said there were more surgeries on Friday but still not the normal flow.

Now that that the replacement workforce is in place, the hospital anticipates operating normally as of Saturday, the statement said.

“We are pleased with how well the transition to the replacement workforce went Thursday,” Adams said. “Technicians came from all corners of the country, and from some of the top medical centers. We’re pleased we have been able to mitigate disruptions to our health care services.”

Representatives from the hospital and union are scheduled to meet again on March 10 with a federal mediator.

Sattler said the nurses stand with the medical techs and “urge St. Charles to end this strike by meeting the reasonable and deserved requests being made by the OFNHP.”

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