By DAN MARGOLIES & ALEX SMITH
Registered nurses at 17 HCA-owned hospitals in five states, including two in the Kansas City area, have tentatively approved a new collective bargaining pact covering wages, staffing, scheduling and workplace safety.
Nurses at Research Medical Center in Kansas City have ratified the agreement and nurses at Menorah Medical Center in Overland Park are scheduled to vote on it later today.
“It helps for us to continue to recruit good nurses and to retain the nurses that we have,” said Carolyn Lusby, a registered nurse at Menorah.
“For us it’s about giving good quality care. We’re doing that now, and the thing we gained in our contract will help us to continue to do that,” she said.
The agreement grants nurses pay hikes of up to 15 percent over three years, enhances enforcement of staffing practices and strengthens grievance procedures, among other measures.
In recent months, nurses at Research and Menorah have protested what they said were unfair work conditions at the hospitals. They complained the hospitals had failed to comply with their own staffing plans and paid wages below the national average.
The nurses were represented by National Nurses United, which claims to be the largest organization of RNs in the country with 185,000 members.
In addition to Research and Menorah, the collective bargaining agreement covers 10 hospitals in Florida, four in Texas and one in Nevada, or a total of about 8,000 nurses.
Other HCA-operated hospitals in the metropolitan area are not represented by National Nurses United.
Dan Margolies, editor of the Heartland Health Monitor team, is based at KCUR.
Alex Smith is a reporter for KCUR, a partner in the Heartland Health Monitor team.