Hillside nurses seek fair new contract

DEAR EDITOR:

National Nurses Week is a time of celebration for nurses where we are recognized for our unrivaled commitment to patients. Unfortunately, Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital nurses are feeling more unappreciated than ever.

Our nurse’s union began contract negotiations in October 2018 and have been operating on a series of extensions with the hope of reaching a reasonable deal. Instead of a fair union contract, Steward Healthcare insists on an either / or decision — agree to a loophole that could bust the union or accept unfairly low wages and concessions on health care benefits, a coupling of “shut up or earn less” proposals.

Our union is our most effective platform to stand up for our patients who need us for our specialized and individualized care. Hillside is the only hospital in the area that rehabilitates amputees, paraplegics and quadriplegics, patients with Multiple Sclerosis, brain injuries and Parkinson’s, or those recovering from a stroke. We believe Steward wants us to decide between patient advocacy or jeopardizing our own economic welfare.

Steward’s antics leave us concerned that Hillside will join other local institutions in the graveyard of once-owned Steward facilities. Our patients cannot afford for us to be another casualty of Ohio’s unregulated health care system.

Ohio is the only state that does not license its hospitals, and the regulations we do have still make our state the wild west of health care. Other states recognize the need to tame health care corporations for the sake of protecting patients, with some state constitutions banning for-profit systems like Steward. Thankfully, Gov. DeWine shares nurses’ concerns and has promised to somehow hold hospitals accountable.

To close Nurses Week, and speaking on behalf of Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital Nurses, our union’s wish is this: a fair deal that allows us to advocate for patients and earn a fair wage, and meaningful hospital oversight that protects our communities. Our patients deserve nothing less.

DE ANNA FUCHILLA

Chairperson

Hillside Registered Nurses Association

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