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SEIU: Hospital Chain with Record of Bilking Taxpayers and Cutting Services Now Wants to Slash Pay at St. Francis Hospital in Lynwood, Even as Workers Treat COVID-19 Patients

LYNWOOD, Calif., May 6, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Prime Healthcare Services has told workers at St. Francis Medical Center it intends to slash wages by as much as 63% and wants free rein to outsource the jobs of workers who have stood by the hospital as it has been sold and resold, suffered shortages of personal protective equipment, and is currently dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Lynwood City Council unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday night, calling on Prime to maintain services and “make diligent effort to ensure that all current staff of the hospital who have served our community so courageously during the coronavirus pandemic be retained and that all existing labor contracts be honored so that these employees can maintain their current pay and benefits.”

Prime is proposing the cuts even though St. Francis is a profitable hospital under the current wage structure. Prime is in the process of purchasing St. Francis from Verity Health, which is going through bankruptcy.

“Prime wants to cut my pay by five dollars an hour. That’s the thanks I get for serving my community hospital all these years,” said Mayra Castaneda, an ultrasound tech at the hospital.

St. Francis employees also are concerned that massive pay cuts will drive healthcare workers to find jobs elsewhere.

“I can’t imagine skilled nurses and technicians staying at St. Francis if their pay is cut by thousands of dollars a year,” said Jesus Amarillas, an emergency room tech. “People will vote with their feet and it’s patients who will suffer.” 

Prime, which has a long history of defrauding Medicare, cutting important hospital services it deems unprofitable, and fighting with insurance companies and unions, wants to be able to outsource work at will, often a means for employers to boost profits by hiring companies that pay low wages. It is proposing to cut the employee wages across the board, including a lab analyst who would see a pay cut of 63%. Other pay cuts:

  • 6 percent to 28 percent for respiratory techs, the people responsible for putting COVID-19 patients on ventilators;
  • 4.4 percent to 29 percent for ultrasound techs;
  • 15 percent to 22 percent for radiology techs;
  • 18 percent to 31 percent for pharmacy techs;
  • 5 percent to 18 percent for mental health workers;
  • 6 percent to 25 percent for LVNs; and
  • 4 percent to 27 percent for certified nursing assistants.

In its resolution, the Lynwood City Council hailed the service of St. Francis workers, saying the “dedicated healthcare workers at St. Francis Medical Center have continued to provide the medical care and services to the community while the hospital has experienced the turmoil of the Verity bankruptcy, multiple sales, years of uncertainty, and are now bravely caring for our community during the COVID-19 pandemic; risking their own lives while the nation grapples with an insufficient supply of personal protective equipment and testing capacity.”

SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) is one of the largest unions of hospital workers in the United States, with 97,000 members. Learn more at www.seiu-uhw.org.

SOURCE SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West

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Josh Sandberg

Josh Sandberg is the President and CEO of Ortho Spine Partners and sits on several company and industry related Boards. He also is the Creator and Editor of OrthoSpineNews.

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