By Terry Miler
Healthcare workers protested outside the main entrance of City of Hope Tuesday afternoon in Duarte. The union’s beef with management is allegedly ‘ understaffing’ and what organizers called “inferior job benefits that threaten patient care and the hospital’s ability to attract and retain quality employees.”
“As hard as we try to provide the best care for our patients, it’s upsetting that City of Hope too often doesn’t have enough staff working during a shift,” said Mignon Piggee, a patient care assistant at City of Hope Hospital. “That means it may take us longer to respond to patients in need, or slower in making our rounds to check up on them like they deserve.”
“Understaffing in the facility’s operating room and nursing department is of such concern that 43 physicians – including the Chiefs of surgery, neurosurgery and urology – signed an Oct. 31 letter to City of Hope CEO Robert Stone urging him to address the situation.
In addition, workers are calling on City of Hope to provide benefits comparable to those at other area hospitals in order to recruit and retain top talent. Currently, City of Hope caregivers must pay more than $5,000 a year in healthcare premiums for themselves and their families, while caregivers at Kaiser Permanente, Dignity Health, Verity Health, Sutter Health and Tenet Healthcare facilities receive fully-paid family health coverage. In fact, the premiums paid by City of Hope employees are so high that only a few can afford care for themselves and their families at the hospital.
The City of Hope officials offered this handout to reporters covering the labor complaints:
“For decades, City of Hope and the Service Employees International Union SEIU, have successfully worked together. Since our contract with the SEW expired September 30, we have been in active, ongoing negotiations. City of Hope remains committed to reaching an agreement that values our employees, provides competitive pay and allows all of us to continue the excellent care we provide to our patients.”