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Union Calls on Mount Nittany Health to Halt Layoff Plans

by on July 03, 2020 11:25 AM

Hundreds of healthcare workers at Mount Nittany Medical Center are urging executives to rethink plans that would eliminate 10 percent of Mount Nittany Health staff positions.

Members of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, the union representing nearly 1,000 Mount Nittany nurses and health care workers, delivered a petition on Thursday to president and CEO Kathleen Rhine calling on the hospital's administrators and board to halt the layoff of 250 employees, saying they fear the impact the cuts will have on quality of care and services.

Mount Nittany Health announced the cuts on June 18 as the State College-based health system anticipated a $70 million revenue shortfall for the fiscal year ending June 30. Executive pay also is being cut by 10 percent and other spending is being reduced or deferred.

It was the second round of layoffs announced by Mount Nittany, following the elimination of 50 management positions in May.

“A month ago we were heroes,” Denelle Weller, a registered nurse at the medical center for 16 years, said in a statement. “Now they want to show us the door rather than even make an effort to work with us to find a better solution to the problem.”

The union says staff members have sought to work with administrators to gain a better understanding of the issues facing the hospital and health system and work on alternative solutions. But leadership has "refused to share information or discuss alternatives," according to a statement.

Mount Nittany Health spokesperson Nichole Monica disputed that, saying administrators have met with union leaders and hundreds of staff members about the plans.

“While the petition delivered yesterday stated that hospital administration has refused to share information or discuss alternatives, we have already met with the union leadership twice since the announcement. During those meetings, we were not presented with any alternatives," Monica said. "In addition to these meeting with hospital executives, our leadership has met with hundreds of staff members since our announcement and have incorporated their suggestions into our plans."

Monica added that the health system is following the terms of the union's contract for identifying and notifying members who are impacted by the layoffs.

The petition states that the cuts "may threaten the high quality of care and/or reduce services for our patients and community," and that alternative solutions to short-term challenges are needed to sustain the hospital and health system for the future.

“Our hospital is one of the most successful hospitals in the state and that’s largely due to our hard work and dedication to our patients and our community,” Kelsye Stott, a respiratory therapist at the medical center, said in a statement. “It’s heartbreaking that the board and the executives don’t see that. Drastic cuts like this are only going to hurt the people who need us most.

Monica said that Mount Nittany is not reducing services or nurse-to-patient ratios.

"We are not cutting programs or services for our patients. We are not changing nurse to patient ratios and every full time or regular part-time RN will have a position available for them," she said. "Our commitment to providing the community with high quality care will always be our focus.

"As we have already announced, we continue to respond to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic through an overall plan that includes restructuring and reducing management positions, reduction in executive compensation, deferral of capital projects and reductions in outside contracts and supply expenses."


According to the petition, union members will continue to work toward an alternative solution and will join in "whatever action is necessary to protect our patients and our future."


Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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