Connecticut health network, union spar over COVID-19 response

The CEO of Manchester-based Eastern Connecticut Health Network said union locals' demands in a new petition don't provide an accurate picture of the network's COVID-19 pandemic response, according to the Journal Inquirer.

The petition is being circulated by six affiliates of AFT Connecticut — which represent about 950 nurses, technicians and support staff at Manchester Memorial Hospital and Rockville General Hospital in Vernon.  

The petition demands hazard pay, personal protective equipment "without hassle" and a stockpile of supplies. The union locals also urge the network to retain surgical services at Rockville General, which they say are in jeopardy of closure.

"We are calling on ECHN/Prospect to treat Manchester Memorial employees, Rockville General Hospital employees and members of our communities with respect and dignity during this [COVID-19] crisis," the union locals wrote in the petition to the network and its owner, Los Angeles-based Prospect Medical Holdings. "Numerous grievances and concerns have been voiced by union members due to the indifference ECHN/Prospect has shown."

Eastern Connecticut Health Network CEO Deborah Weymouth addressed the petition in the Journal Inquirer and said the allegations are not representative of the experience of most employees.

"We do meet regularly with union leadership, and we plan to continue to keep those lines of communication open," she told the newspaper. "We have to work together and trust that all of us have the best interests of our patients and employees at heart."

"We sometimes disagree on specifics," she added.

Ms. Weymouth said personal protective equipment has always been a priority; the network has never run out of supplies; and the hospitals have established multiple avenues for disseminating information to employees regarding changes in guidance and adjustments to the network's policies.

She also told the Inquirer, the network has set up a "paycheck premium [compensation] program" to pay front-line workers for their work during the pandemic, and the plan is being considered by the union locals. 

Regarding surgical services at Rockville General, she told the Inquirer the state has given approval to convert the hospital's operating rooms into an overflow COVID-19 intensive care unit, and people who would normally work in those units have been temporarily redeployed to Manchester Memorial and other network facilities.

Read the full report here


More articles on human resources:
Hospitals and unions: 13 recent conflicts, agreements
Tentative pact avoids strike by Illinois nursing home workers
Judge dismisses union lawsuit against Montefiore over working conditions

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