Employees urge Oregon hospital to bring back more furloughed workers

Employees at Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria, Ore., are urging hospital administration to use federal relief money to bring back workers who were furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Daily Astorian.

Columbia Memorial furloughed 90 of its 740 employees in March after the facility scaled back nonemergent procedures in response to the crisis. Affected workers received three weeks of pay and benefits.

However, those benefits have run out, and Lonn Martin, a housekeeper in the hospital's surgery department and a chief steward for the Service Employees International Union, said employees are concerned that furloughed workers without financial support will leave Columbia Memorial, according to the report.

In a statement provided to the Daily Astorian, the hospital said 18 of the 54 SEIU members who were furloughed have been called back.

"We will bring employees back as the workload and volumes justify the increase in employees," the hospital administration said, according to the report. "We will give priority to those positions that impact patient care."

The newspaper reports that another union, the Oregon Nurses Association, also wants the hospital to use $8.4 million in federal relief money to help cover paid time off exhausted during the COVID-19 crisis.

Hospital spokesperson Nancee Long, in an email to Becker's Hospital Review, reiterated that it is in the community's interest for the hospital to be as effective and efficient as possible in spending federal relief funds, particularly as COVID-19 surges continue in the U.S. 

Hospital administration also said it has a caregiver assistance fund for employees who need support.

Read the full story here


More articles on human resources:
Henry Mayo nurses protest over layoffs, PPE
Mass General Brigham nurses say crowding on hospital's shuttles endangers their health
NLRB issues complaint against New Jersey hospital accused of unfair actions against nurses

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