Ketchikan nurses need your help and support
By Barbara Lander RN
January 17, 2015
Labor negotiations are not going well at PEACEHEALTH Ketchikan Medical Center (KMC) : Administration and nurses are at an impasse and will be meeting with a mediator on January 26, 1015. Our Nurses primary issue is concern for our patients: we want more than anything to deliver safe, high quality patient care. Factors that impact our ability to do this are:
1.) WAGES: PEACEHEALTH Ketchikan nurses are paid about 10% less than PEACEHEALTH nurses in other PEACEHEALTH Locations. We rarely attract good experienced Nurses. Many of the newly graduated nurses from our local nursing program grow into excellent nurses; their training and development takes 6 months to a year. Unfortunately even our home grown nurses frequently leave in two years when their contract is up. They go to another community because they can make $5-7 an hour more and enjoy a lower cost of living as well. There has been a 42% turnover in nursing staff at KMC over the past two years!
A core group of nurses will remain in Ketchikan and practice our profession here. Our homes and families are here. We love Ketchikan. However, we are exhausted from orienting the continual flow of new grads, new hires, and temps. We are exhausted by the continual nursing shortages and the resulting extra shifts. We are dismayed at the impact this is having on patient care.
PEACEHEALTH administration has made a series of remarks to justify our sub-standard wages which seem to us to show a complete lack of understanding of Ketchikan. “The cost of living is lower in Ketchikan”. WOW! Lower than where, New York City? They have finally conceded, when presented with overwhelming evidence, that the cost of living is NOT lower in Ketchikan. When presented the fact that all other KMC employees (administration, Therapists, housekeeping, maintenance, nursing assistants, clerical staff) are compensated 3% higher than PEACEHEALTH facilities in Washington and Oregon they explained to us that was the PEACEHEALTH core value of "Social Justice" in action. Their higher wages compensate for the higher cost of living in Ketchikan. But for some unexplainable reason"Social justice" does not apply to Nurses. We are baffled by their remoteness from reality.
We Nurses need help and support from OUR community to give Ketchikan the health care it deserves! Please join us as we struggle to provide nursing care we can all be proud of.
Barbara Lander RN
Received January 17, 2015 - Published January 17, 2015
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