For Immediate Release
Contact: Susanna Farber, (415) 310-6730, firstname.lastname@example.org
Employees testify that the quality of their working conditions impacts the quality of patient care at the hospital
San Rafael, Calif. – On Saturday, May 6, the North Bay Jobs With Justice Workers’ Rights Board held a hearing to investigate allegations by Marin General Hospital employees that their working conditions are negatively impacting patient care and safety.
“It’s important for our members to speak out,” said Teamsters 856 Secretary-Treasurer Peter Finn. “They are not just standing up for their own working conditions. They are standing up for the members of the Marin County community who expect and deserve a high level of care from the hospital.”
Teamsters 856 members at the hospital joined registered nurses, radiology technologists, and other hospital employees to testify about management’s decision to understaff vital areas such as the ICU, the CSU (cardiac unit), surgical, and medical units. Workers spoke about the hospital’s harmful shift in priorities – placing the bottom-line above patient care. Hospital employees also testified about the impact outsourcing the work of qualified employees to out-of-state companies and the planned automation of positions that interact directly with patients has had on the hospital environment and its patients.
One worker testified regarding reporting an incident of sexual harassment to her director, only to be told, “if the nurses in the ER have big chests and can ignore these situations, why couldn’t she.” She told the director that his response made her feel bad and scared. “I was nervous, but he laughed at me and mocked me,” she said. “He told me to return to my floor. He did not care what I was feeling.” She further reported this incident to the human resources department but HR has not responded to her complaint for over a month.
A worker from the surgical floor testified about the reduced quality of his unit’s supplies, understaffing leading to employee burnout, and operating room staff’s exposure to toxic smoke. Like most of the workers who testified, he wants to help improve working conditions in order to ensure patients continued to get the best care. “I want to see the hospital take better care of our patients and better care of us employees,” he said. “I hope the hospital can listen and address our concerns.”
Lee Domanico, Marin General Hospital’s Chief Executive Officer, was invited, but declined the invitation to attend the hearing and respond to the allegations.
After hearing all of the testimony, the Workers’ Rights Board, which included faith leaders, community leaders, and elected leaders from the area, deliberated privately about a suggested course of action to address and fix the issues brought up during the hearing.
“We ultimately all share the same value,” said Marin County District 1 Supervisor Damon Connolly who served on the Board. “We want to have the best community hospital possible where patient safety is valued, a high level of care, and also somewhere where you can be proud to go to work.”
The Board returned with the following preliminary recommendations:
- Marin General Hospital should increase staffing where needed to be in compliance with required staffing ratios.
- Discard the plan to replace Patient Admitting Representatives with kiosks. The plan to reduce staff in order to save money would also reduce critical human interaction with patients and reduce the quality of patient care that begins when patients are admitted to the hospital.
- Management should demonstrate through action that they are truly serious about improving the working conditions at Marin General Hospital, and explore other approaches to managing employees which builds upon the employees’ desire to provide optimum care to patients.
- Management should provide training to all Directors/Supervisors in positive management practices that improves staff morale and the work environment at the hospital.
- Hospital management should take appropriate action with regard to the Supervisor Gerald Lynch, who apparently did not follow appropriate procedures when an employee reports that he/she has experienced sexual harassment.
- MGH Corporation Board should become more transparent and accessible to the community and the employees.
- Marin General Hospital should align their budget priorities with improving the staffing needs of patients and the working conditions of its workers in order to reduce State Administered Penalties, Survey Deficiencies, and self-reported incidents and complaints, and improve the quality healthcare to their patients.
The North Bay Jobs With Justice Workers’ Rights Board’s full report will be available within the month – www.northbayjobswithjustice.org.
Video of the testimony portion of the hearing can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/teamsters856/videos/1478383498847667/
Founded in 1949, Teamsters Local 856 represents more than 10,000 hardworking members in the San Francisco Bay Area, North Bay, Sacramento, and Central Valley communities.