WASHINGTON—The Pacific Northwest Hospital Medicine Association, the labor union for doctors at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend, in Springfield, Ore., announced today it had reached a tentative agreement on its first contract with PeaceHealth management after productive negotiations at the bargaining table. This is the first group of hospitalists to be represented by the American Federation of Teachers.
The agreement, which will be voted on by members of the union over the coming week, is a huge gain for PeaceHealth doctors and sets a strong precedent for a positive working relationship between labor and management.
Hospitalist and spokesman for the Pacific Northwest Hospital Medicine Association Dr. David Schwartz said, “Our priority has always been to protect our ability to provide high-quality care to this community. I believe that this contract gives our members a voice, not only as doctors, but as advocates and decision-makers for our patients.”
Nurses at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart are already represented by the Oregon Nurses Association. Lynda Pond, RNC, ADN, a nurse at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center and co-chair of the ONA bargaining unit there, said: “Nurses are proud to work side by side with hospitalists to make sure our patients receive the care they deserve. This historic first contract is an important step toward addressing local healthcare providers’ concerns about patient care. We look forward to continuing our work with hospitalists to improve our community’s healthcare.”
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said: “The same corporate culture that puts hospital profits above patient care also takes decision-making out of the hands of experts and strips trained professionals—in this case doctors—of their ability to oversee and manage patient care. The doctors at PeaceHealth want to help people—that is why they work as hospitalists. While it took a year and a half of negotiations with management, the doctors have used the power of collective bargaining to regain voice and respect on the job to ensure that they can better serve their patients and community and be treated as the highly skilled professionals they are.”