Saturday, December 25, 1999

One hospital
left in negotiations
with nurses' union

Nurses at the other hospitals
agreed to pacts that are being
hailed as groundbreaking

By Suzanne Tswei


The fight wasn't about money, says St. Francis Hospital's critical care nurse Ann Miho. It was about being a better nurse to patients who trust her with their lives.

"That's why it was so hard," said Miho.

The impending strike was eating away at her, forcing her to choose between the patients she cares about deeply and her resolve to fight for nursing policies that will allow her to practice her skills more fully.

As it turned out, Miho didn't have to make the difficult decision. The hospital and its 420 registered nurses settled their differences in a tentative agreement Wednesday. Last night the nurses voted to ratified the pact.

The new contract gives the nurses an 8 percent pay raise over three years, other benefits and no reduction in the nurse-patient ratio. Most important, she said, are provisions that allow the nurses a voice in staffing and nursing policies.

The contract calls for a committee made up of management and staff to discuss new policies, said Nancy McGuckin, executive director of Hawaii Nurses Association.

Similar provisions, described by union leaders as "groundbreaking and national-trendsetting," also were included in settlements with four other Oahu hospitals.

Kuakini Medical Center remains the only hospital still negotiating with the nurses' union. Talks are scheduled to resume Monday. Kapiolani Medical Center's nurses are scheduled to vote on their tentative contract Monday. Nurses at Kaiser Permanente and Queen's Medical Center have ratified their contracts.

Miho said that for the first time this holiday season, she can think about enjoying Christmas. She has today off and plans to spend it with her family.

"It's the first Christmas with my family in 11 years. Last year I had to work, and before that I was on the Mainland (studying for her nursing degree and working)" said Miho.

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