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Santa Rosa Healthcare Workers Seek Accountability From Catholic Hospital System

Failure by Sutter Medical Center Santa Rosa and Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital to agree on transfer of county services fuels efforts to make

Memorial responsive to its workforce and community stakeholders.

SANTA ROSA, Calif., March 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the wake of news about Sonoma County's healthcare delivery system, healthcare workers at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital -- already engaged in a multi-year effort to win an effective voice in the workplace -- vowed to redouble efforts to make Memorial Hospital and its statewide corporate parent, the St. Joseph Health System (SJHS), accountable to the community and its own workforce.

In separate statements this morning, the two hospital system giants communicated their failure to negotiate a transfer of Sonoma County services currently provided by Sutter Medical Center Santa Rosa. Sutter Santa Rosa declared that "the transaction with Memorial is no longer a possibility." With no clear prospect of Memorial being bound by a county contract, Memorial workers plan to shine an ever more intense spotlight on the hospital's practices.

The announced layoff of 212 workers and the closure of Acute Psychiatric and Rehabilitation Services by Memorial Hospital in February sparked an outcry from workers, as well as extensive media coverage of how the decisions create holes in the county's healthcare delivery system. Memorial Hospital cited financial hardship as the reason for the cuts yet the company's own website shows $15.6 million in net income for SJHS Sonoma County in 2007. The St. Joseph Health System is one of the most profitable hospital companies in California. It reported a company-wide net income margin of 8.2% for FYE 2007.

Hundreds of Memorial Hospital employees signed a petition calling for a halt to the layoffs and expressing deep concern for the loss of services. The petition will be delivered to hospital management on Thursday. Next week, workers will hold an informational picket outside the hospital and a community-worker speak-out at Odd Fellows Hall. Unlike Santa Rosa workers at the Sutter and Kaiser Permanente hospitals, Memorial service and technical workers have no organized voice in the workplace through a union. The St. Joseph Health System has repeatedly rejected workers' calls for mutually agreed-upon ground rules leading to a secret ballot union election.

The 150,000-member SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West is the largest hospital and healthcare union in the western United States and represents every type of healthcare worker, including nurses, professional, technical and service classifications. Our mission is to achieve high-quality healthcare for all.


(707) 365-3982

SOURCE SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West
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