Medford nurses reach a tentative contract agreement to improve patient care at Providence Medford Medical Center

Local nurses at Providence Medford Medical Center, represented by the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA), successfully reached a tentative agreement on a new two-year contract to improve patient care and attract nurses to Medford ahead of an expected nursing shortage.

ONA nurses and Providence Medford Medical Center administrators reached the tentative agreement May 18. The 287 ONA registered nurses at Providence Medford Medical Center will vote on the agreement May 26.

“This is a real victory for our community. This agreement will improve patient care at the bedside and helps us attract and retain the nurses we’ll need to continue providing high-quality care to Medford’s families,” said Christalyn Matlock, a local ONA nurse and negotiating team member at Providence Medford Medical Center. “It’s been inspiring to watch community members and nurses stand side-by-side throughout this process to advocate for better health care and a stronger workforce.”

Rogue Valley residents actively supported nurses throughout negotiations. On April 10, more than 200 nurses and community members held an informational picket outside Providence Medford Medical Center to raise awareness about patient care and recruitment and retention issues. In response, more than 750 community members signed a public petition asking hospital administrators to work with nurses to reach a fair contract agreement that protects local patients’ health care now and in the future.

One of nurses’ chief concerns throughout negotiations was high turnover rates, particularly for first-year nurses at the hospital. Oregon is projected to have a 6,000 nurse shortage by 2025 and the Rogue Valley may be particularly vulnerable.

To prevent the expected shortage, nurses and community members focused on reaching a fair agreement that would raise health care standards while attracting and retaining the skilled nurses Medford needs.

“We want to recruit and retain the best nurses so our community receives first-class health care from the moment they step through the door to the moment they leave the hospital,” said Abby Sanchez, a local ONA leader and nurse at Providence Medford Medical Center. “This agreement achieves that. By raising local health standards, retaining experienced nurses, and helping the hospital recruit new nurses, we’re closer than ever to making sure everyone in Medford receives the high-quality health care they deserve.”

Highlights of the Tentative Agreement include:

  • Improves patient care and safety by allowing nurse experts to set training standards for nurses who float to multiple units
  • Raises health standards by increasing certification pay for nurses with specialized training
  • Helps Medford attract and retain skilled nurses by adopting a more competitive wage scale
  • Creates a better work-life balance through collaborative scheduling plans
  • Integrates new nurses into the health care team more quickly

The hospital also took a critical step to attract and keep skilled nurses by increasing wages 6 to 9.5 percent—based on nurses’ experience—over the length of the contract. This increase will help Providence Medford Medical Center retain experienced nurses and recruit more nurses in advance of Oregon’s expected nursing shortage.

Local nurses have been working without a contract since January 2018. The new agreement will run through March 31, 2020.

The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) is the state’s largest nursing organization. It is a professional association and labor union which represents nearly 15,000 nurses across the state. ONA advocates for patients, nursing practice and nurses while assuring compassion, respect and dignity throughout Oregon’s health care systems. For more information visit www.OregonRN.org.