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Hospital moves forward with layoffs

St. Joseph’s Memorial Hospital lay off some of their support staff

Jessica Corral has two kids, her son is 10 and her daughter is 7. Corral’s daughter has urological issues that require her to be driven six hours down south to University Of California, San Francisco.

Corral has her own set of health related issues and a dwindling insurance policy and has lost her job.

“I don’t know what I am going to do,” Corral said. “I just want my job back.”

Corral was an Emergency Department Technician 2 at St. Joseph Memorial Hospital. Her job consisted of the everything from helping patients get out of bed or go to the bathroom to running the Electrocardiography machines and performing Intravenous Therapy drips.

Like many others in her position, she was laid off over two weeks ago. This was after hospital administration confirmed their plan to layoff 2.6 percent members of the hospital’s support staff.

On Sept. 26, Corral and about 100 other ex and current St. Joseph staff, community and union members joined with the National Union of Healthcare workers to protest the recent layoffs at St. Joseph memorial hospital located in Eureka. Corral is worried about her and her daughter’s access to the medication and treatments that they require.

“Once my insurance runs out we can’t pay for our medication,” Corral said.

Many seem to be in similar situations, but Corral explained that even before the layoffs nurses, emergency department technicians, sitters and lab technicians were overworked and understaffed to the point of exhaustion.

“I was the last person left on my (morning) shift,” Corral said. “There is now no one in the morning, available to do simple things and resupply (nurse stations).”

This has directly affected the nurse and support staff who still work at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Lesley Ester, a registered nurse who is still employed at St. Joseph, is concerned about the health of current staff.

“There has been a huge uptick in the number of sick calls,” Ester said. “In other words their immune system are shot, their emotional system are shocked, so were having a lot of sick calls.”

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Rennee Saucedo leads a chant during the nurses strike at St. Josephs Hospital in Eureka, CA Monday Sept. 26. | Photo by Deven Chavannes

The struggles of the nurses and support staff, have not been unheard by the community, many came to show their support. Sylvia Deeroy, a local community activist and resident had a recent five day stint in St. Joseph’s and said she was appalled by the way she was treated and how overworked the staff was while in treatment for a recent knee replacement at the hospital.

“They have totally insufficient help, I was there for five days, couldn’t get up on my own,” Deeroy said. “It wasn’t until the fourth day that I was able to get to the bathroom and bathe myself and brush my teeth. There was no one to help before.”

The layoffs have been directed at support staff like Emergency Department Technicians and others focused on patient care. Many like Ester see this as a problem of understaffing and the overall stress put on support staff.

“The amount sick calls we get only, increase the problem of our understaffing,” Ester said.

St. Joseph is citing that the staffing cuts come from a rash of unprofitable years. But in the recent press package handed out by the National Union of healthcare workers shows that from 2014-2017 the hospital had a net income of $135,710,202. With the peak of their net incomes being $49,000,000 in 2017.

Some community members and St. Joseph staff doubt the hospital commitment to the community due to poor work conditions and patient service. Allen McCloskey, a lab technician who helped unionize St. Joseph a couple of years back is one of those weary of St. Joseph’s commitment to the community.

“It’s my assertion that the care for the community is just an ancillary sound bite,” McCloskey said.“They are concerned about their financial algorithms.”

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