You are currently viewing Watsonville nurses oppose push for full-time status – Santa Cruz Sentinel

Watsonville nurses oppose push for full-time status – Santa Cruz Sentinel

WATSONVILLE – The Pajaro Valley Health Care District will hold its last scheduled board meeting before the August 31 fundraising deadline for the purchase of Watsonville Community Hospital.

The meeting comes amid recent controversy over transition plans that were shared with the board during a presentation two weeks ago. At its August 4 meeting, the Board received a consultant’s report detailing the ongoing logistical and financial planning for the potential transition of ownership of the hospital effective September 1.

The human resources update said all current staff at the hospital will receive job offer letters, but nurses must reapply for their shifts as part of an effort to move as many workers as possible from part-time to full-time status.

The demand for a new offer was condemned by more than a dozen nurses at Watsonville Hospital who called to express their displeasure with the decision.

“Our jobs are physically, emotionally and mentally stressful,” said Karen Skillicorn, a fourth-generation Watsonville resident and registered nurse for 41 years, including 39 at Watsonville Community Hospital. “Nurses need time away from the bedside to recharge, to take care of our physical and emotional needs, so that we can come back to the bedside and provide the care our patients deserve.”

According to Santa Cruz County spokesman Jason Hoppin, the hospital currently employs 112 part-time and 81 full-time nurses. .

Pajaro Valley Health Care District board member Jasmine Nájera told the Sentinel on Monday that the hospital’s new schedule provides for 18 part-time and beneficial nursing positions. Daily or on-call nurses who do not receive benefits will also continue to be an option at the hospital.

Skillicorn said she fears the hospital will lose many experienced nurses who rely on part-time status to foster a healthy work-life balance. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased burnout in the profession and led to a statewide shortage, according to an AP report.

District consultant Cecilia Montalvo said during the presentation that the initiative stemmed from a need to reduce hospital costs. She said the hospital lost $22 million in the last fiscal year and was on track to lose $23 million this year. He often fills in the gaps in the schedule by using travel nurses with high salaries. Montalvo said the hospital is expected to spend $12 million on traveling nurses this year and nearly $6 million on overtime and bonuses.

“It’s a difficult issue right now that we’re trying to work through,” health care district board member Marcus Pimentel said at the Aug. 4 meeting. “In many ways, I’m grateful that we have issues to work through together, rather than not having a solution to keep the hospital open.”

Nájera said union employees received offer letters on August 6, while non-union and per diem workers received theirs on August 12 and August 15, respectively. The deadline for responding to employee offer letters is Friday, with an effective date of September 1.

Thursday’s agenda

The consent agenda for Thursday’s board meeting includes an update on fundraising for the hospital acquisition. The Sentinel reported last week that the Pajaro Valley Health Care District project was about $5.5 million short of the $67 million needed as of August 31.

Community Bridges announced Monday that it had approved a $20,000 donation to the effort and earlier this month the Santa Cruz County Community Foundation announced it was contributing more than $7 million.

If you are going to

What: Pajaro Valley Health Care District Board Meeting

When: Thursday 5 p.m.

How: Virtual only, Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/93443061917.

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