Nurses and St. Francis
tap mediator

The sides meet on the hospital’s request
for a skeleton crew

By Lyn Danninger

Officials from St. Francis Medical Center and the Hawaii Nurses Association met last night with a federal mediator at the office of the Hawaii Employers Council.

The discussion, which was ongoing at press time, was to focus on the hospital's request for some union nurses to return to work and provide care for the hospital's dialysis, transplant and critically ill patients.

St. Francis' 340 HNA member nurses have been on strike since Monday.

The hospital said it needs up to 16 nurses to work in the kidney dialysis area and another seven nurses for critically ill patients. An unspecified number could be needed if the organ transplant unit is called to work.

St. Francis sent a letter to the union Tuesday asking that the nurses be released to return to work.

The union said it would be willing to meet with St. Francis about the issue as long as outstanding questions were settled regarding specifics about the type of care needed and the provision of insurance coverage for nurses who return to work.

St. Francis also is now considering getting replacement nurses through local nursing agencies, according to St. Francis spokeswoman Maggie Jarrett.

Jarrett said the hospital is looking for replacement nurses to provide a rest for those non-union nurses working extended shifts in various units around the hospital.

"What we are doing right now is having nurses work extremely long shifts so if someone should call in ill then we are really up against a wall," she said.

Jarrett said the hospital had not considered hiring replacement nurses until now because it had hoped the dispute would be settled.

It is unlikely the hospital could find replacement nurses for its specialty organ transplant and renal dialysis units due to shortages in the community, said Jarrett. It is those nurses that the hospital is asking the union to release back to work, Jarrett.

Over at Kaiser Medical Center, nurses will vote today on whether to approve their tentative contract. Voting will take place until 11:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, picketing continues at the state's largest hospital, Queen's Medical Center, where over 800 nurses have been on strike since Tuesday. The 210 registered nurses employed by Kuakini Medical Center also remain on strike. No new talks between those hospitals and the union have been scheduled.

St. Francis Healthcare System
Queen's Medical Center
Kaiser Permanente
Kuakini Health System

Hawaii Nurses Association

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