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Hospital workers fight to save jobs and services

UHW workers picketed California Pacific Medical Center on Wednesday
to protest proposed layoffs and service cuts.
Photos by John Han

By John Han

September 22, 2007

Members of the United Healthcare Workers West (UHW) voiced loud opposition Wednesday against California Pacific Medical Center's (CPMC) plan to cut 20 hospital jobs.

An informational picket was held to protest the layoffs.

According to the UHW, the CPMC layoffs would include the elimination of fifteen housekeeper positions at all four hospital campuses. The plan calls for limiting cleaning services to medical office buildings.

UHW workers said the service cuts will negatively impact patient care because housekeepers clean the hospital rooms before patients can be admitted to receive health care.

"We don't get our beds cleaned," said UHW member Emily Stone.

A psychiatric technician at CPMC, Stone said CPMC is already understaffed in housekeeping positions.

"We have three beds that needed cleaning last week. It took us just forever to get a housekeeper to clean the beds so we could admit the three admissions we had coming."

Emily Stone with Assemblymember Mark Leno.

"When I worked the other day, they pulled someone from the emergency room to clean our beds. That was an imposition on that worker because she was doing extra work that she shouldn't have had to do," Stone added.

Profits for CPMC in 2006 reached over $150 million, according to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD). Sutter Health, CPMC's parent company, enjoyed $587 million in profits in the same year.

"What are they doing with all that money if they're cutting jobs," asked State Assemblyman Mark Leno. "We want to know."

Leno said CPMC is a supposed to be non-profit hospital.

Assemblymember Mark Leno

UHW workers see the cuts as part of a larger plan by Sutter to consolidate the city's hospital services towards a $1.7 billion proposal to build a new hospital at the site of the Cathedral Hill Hotel on Van Ness Ave.

They cited downgrading of acute care services at CPMC's St. Luke's campus in the Mission district. The proposed cuts will impact neonatal services and force the closure of St. Luke's inpatient psychiatric unit.

St. Luke's Hospital had been a longtime provider of charitable care services to low-income patients in the southeast area of San Francisco, including the Mission, Potrero and Excelsior districts.

But things have drastically changed since St. Luke's merger with CPMC.

UHW Administrative Vice President John Borsos said that CPMC provides the lowest level of charitable care services to low-income patients in San Francisco.

"It's a tragedy what their doing to this city," Borsos said. "Just as importantly, what they're doing to the workers here who have dedicated their lives to taking care of patients… they're making their cuts on the backs of the workers."

John Borsos, UHW Administrative Vice President

Senator Carol Migden, Supervisor Tom Ammiano and San Francisco Labor Council Executive Director Tim Paulson attended the picket in support of the protest action.





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