PeaceHealth at odds with unions as closures, layoffs loom

Vancouver, Wash.-based PeaceHealth is closing locations, causing frustration amongst displaced workers and the union representing them.

Memorial Health Center, an urgent care clinic in Vancouver, is one of five clinics and services set to shutter this year. The Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, or OFNHP, represents around three dozen workers at the clinic. 

On July 23, PeaceHealth notified the union that it would be closing Memorial Health Center, Northwest Labor Press reported. After the clinic shutters Sept. 30, workers will receive four weeks of severance pay and benefits, plus one week for every year they've served PeaceHealth. The schedule caps at 26 weeks. 

In an emailed statement, PeaceHealth told Becker's the building is in decline and needs immediate infrastructure improvements. 

"The magnitude of the needs has led to the decision to close the services offered at this site," the system said in its statement. It noted that although current positions at Memorial will be eliminated, affected workers can apply at PeaceHealth's Fisher's Landing Clinic, about 12 miles away. 

Sixty-nine total jobs will be lost as a result of PeaceHealth's clinic closures, according to a May report. The health system — plagued by unsustainable negative operating margins — also took steps to shutter its "underutilized" Eugene (Ore.) University District hospital this week. 

More than 100 registered nurses represented by the Oregon Nurses Association will be affected by the closure. The union "strongly opposes" the decision to shutter the hospital and "asks management to reverse this decision immediately," according to local CBS-affiliate KPIC

"ONA is working closely with our union partners at PeaceHealth, including Service Employees International Union, the International Union of Operating Engineers, and the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals on a coordinated response to this decision by PeaceHealth," the union told the news station.

The health system told Becker's it aims to keep workers in-network where possible. 

"PeaceHealth is committed to retaining its valued caregivers and working with its labor partners as it evolves its care services in Lane County, finding equivalent positions within PeaceHealth’s Oregon network," the system said in its statement. "That includes integrating qualified and interested University District caregivers into open positions at the RiverBend campus and other PeaceHealth locations."

Editor's Note: This article was updated Aug. 25 at 5:04 p.m. to include information from an emailed statement from PeaceHealth. 

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