Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital calls union lawsuit a 'publicity stunt': 8 things to know

Detroit Medical Center's Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital in Commerce Charter Township, Mich., seeks to dismiss a whistle-blower lawsuit filed by union-represented nurses.

The announcement came this week via a news release from the nurses, who are represented by Michigan Nurses Association-affiliated Professional Nurses Association of Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital.

Here are eight things to know.

1. The lawsuit stems from a complaint filed by nurses Nov. 2 in Oakland County Circuit Court.

2. At issue in the lawsuit are Assignment Despite Objection paper-form based complaints nurses filled out. The forms were part of a report submitted to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs alleging various patient safety violations at the hospital. The nurses reportedly claim hospital officials failed to consider the forms.

3. Hospital officials said the lawsuit calls on Huron Valley-Sinai to recognize and implement this paper-form based complaint process. But they said doing so "would not only be inefficient and impractical, but is also an action pre-empted by federal labor law."

4. Karima Bentounsi, CEO of Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital, stated: The hospital "stands behind its electronic, web-based processes for ensuring conformance to the Michigan Public Health Code and the delivery of safe care to patients. Per the Public Health Code that all hospitals must follow, Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital already had, and continues to utilize, an electronic documentation system for monitoring quality of care. All staff are trained on this system and submit potential patient or employee concerns, especially those related to safety."

5. The lawsuit comes as the union and hospital are in ongoing contract negotiations, and the hospital goes on to say state courts cannot lawfully get involved on either side during such negotiations. Therefore, Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

6. The hospital additionally calls the ADO forms "well-recognized tactics used by unions to gain leverage in the bargaining process."

"It is unlikely any hospital in the electronic age would adopt this type of tracking methodology in today's technology-based environment due to privacy concerns. Those who understand federal labor law or collective bargaining processes will recognize this tactic as a publicity stunt and yet another unfortunate attempt to damage an organization’s goodwill within the community," facility officials wrote.

7. In response to the hospital seeking to dismiss the lawsuit, the union stood by its allegations.

8. Pat Kampmann-Bush, RN, recovery nurse at Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital and chief steward of the Professional Nurses Association of HVSH, said: "The facts of this case are not in dispute. Nurses at Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital filed more than 240 Assignment Despite Objection forms between January and September of this year. Our managers refused to accept this information.

"We believe management's failure to respond is a violation of the Michigan Public Health Code. The law requires a written response, within 60 days, when a healthcare employee identifies issues related to safe patient care, as well as a good-faith effort to work with the employee to resolve the issue. We are confident we have presented a strong case and look forward to our day in court," she added.

"As nurses, patient care is always our top priority. When we see an issue in our hospital that affects our patients, we have a responsibility to inform our managers. Our commitment to our patients is why we formed our union, and safe staffing at our hospital is our number one bargaining priority."

 

 

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