Union demands ‘quality care’

The members of Service Employees International Union Local 250 in San Jose, Calif., will “rally for quality care and jobs” on Thursday at 11 a.m. PDT at O’Connor Hospital in San Jose and three other Daughters of Charity Health System hospitals in the Bay Area.

According to a press release, union workers from O’Connor, St. Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy, Calif., Seton Medical Center in Daly City, Calif., and Seton Medical Center Coastside in Moss Beach, Calif., will gather outside each hospital to ask Daughters of Charity to “institute the same patient care and job standards at their facility as have been put in place at Kaiser [Permanente] and Catholic Healthcare West‘s California hospitals.”

The union wants “a set of common-sense solutions that include an education and training fund for hospital employees, improved retirement benefits and other important issues that would improve the quality of patient care and jobs at California hospitals” as a means of reducing staff turnover, improving recruitment and alleviating understaffing.

“If a hospital corporation wants to provide quality care, they have to retain dedicated staff and be interested in training and developing the staff they do have. Catholic Healthcare West and Kaiser Permanente have contracts that encourage quality employees to stick around, and it’s time for the Daughters of Charity to make those same improvements to job standards and patient care,” O’Connor obstetrical technician Tracey Garges says in the press release.

Naturally, the union is trying to protect jobs and perhaps recruit a few more members, but it will be interesting to hear if anyone will mention better information technology as a safety tool at any of the rallies.

Kaiser is in the second year of a three-year, $2 billion project to bring full inpatient and outpatient electronic health records, clinical decision support and online patient-clinician communication to its 12,000 physicians and 8.4 million enrollees in nine states. The system is up and running in Hawaii now, but has not reached California, where Kaiser runs the two largest group practices in America.

San Francisco-based CHW announced in February that it would spend $137 million on patient safety-related technology in its 41 hospitals during the next seven years.

Although the union does not mention it, another massive Northern California health system, Sutter Health is ponying up a cool $1.2 billion over 10 years for clinical IT.

Could it be that the rank-and-file workers in the Daughters of Charity facilities want the same type of technology? Where does the medical staff stand on this issue? I will be watching this story carefully.