HUNTINGTON — Just one day after a strike by hundreds of union service and maintenance unit workers at Cabell Huntington Hospital, officials say “operations are running smoothly.”
“We have patient beds and no waiting for those who need access to ER care,” the hospital said in an email to The Herald-Dispatch.
Officials said elective surgeries are back on schedule after being temporarily postponed for a few days.
“The main OR and other surgical departments conducted procedures yesterday,” Tim Martin, chief operating officer at Cabell Huntington Hospital, said in the email. “Out of an abundance of caution, elective surgeries in the main OR were scaled back and rescheduled to allow for the transition (Wednesday), but are running smoothly and increasing cases. Patients with procedures scheduled next week can expect for them to go as planned.”
However, Martin said surgeries at the Cabell Huntington Surgery Center have been moved to the hospital during the work stoppage. He added that no surgeries are being canceled due to the current blood shortage in the region.
Martin confirmed the hospital is using outside contract workers to fill vacancies due to the strike.
“After receiving the 10-day strike notice from SEIU 1199, CHH developed contingency plans to ensure continuity in patient care, which included securing agency workers should a work stoppage occur,” Martin said in the email.
Martin would not say how many workers the hospital has brought in or how much they are being paid. Service Employees International Union District 1199 officials claimed on Wednesday the workers are being paid as much as $15,000 for two weeks of work.
“To support the integrity of the contingency plan, we are unable to provide specific information,” the hospital said in a follow-up email to the newspaper.
There was also disagreement between the hospital and the union on the number of union workers in the bargaining unit.
Molly Frick, Cabell Huntington Hospital human resources director, said there are currently 942 members in the union service and maintenance workers’ unit, but Joyce Gibson with SEIU District 1199 said on Thursday the number was 997.
“There are a significant number (who) have chosen to care for patients and come to work,” Frick said.
“That’s a lie,” Gibson said. “Ask the nurses inside.”
Gibson said she wasn’t aware of any members crossing the picket line.
“Tell them to give you names,” she said.
It was also incorrectly reported that the strike in 1998 lasted 27 days, but it actually lasted 17 days, Frick added.