The Dalles nurses reach a tentative contract agreement with Mid-Columbia Medical Center

Proposed agreement is a victory for nurses and patients

Local nurses at Mid-Columbia Medical Center successfully reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract that will improve patients’ care and help address staffing and turnover issues at the hospital, the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) announced today.

ONA represents the 163 registered nurses at Mid-Columbia Medical Center. Local nurses will hold a ratification vote on the tentative agreement August 24 – 27.

“We’re proud we’ve reached a fair agreement that will improve health care throughout the hospital and address some of our community’s biggest health care needs,” said local nurse and ONA member Aliesha Pfeifer. “Nurses are patients’ most important advocates. We’re going to continue doing everything we can to make sure everyone in our community has access to affordable, high-quality health care.”

Throughout negotiations nurses focused on issues that impact local patients’ care, including expanding access to care by increasing nurse recruitment and retention, improving care quality through better training and decreasing risky scheduling practices.

Highlights of the Tentative Agreement:

  • Increases patient safety through new training and mentorship programs
  • Improves patient care by limiting the use of variable shifts—which require nurses to switch regularly between night and day shifts, increasing the risk of mistakes and injuries
  • Helps address health care access and inequality issues by encouraging more nurses to become certified medical interpreters
  • Creates a better work-life balance through other scheduling improvements
  • Helps The Dalles attract and retain experienced nurses by offering a more competitive wage scale and reversing cuts to part-time positions

As part of the proposed agreement, the hospital will slowly increase nurses’ wages 6.5 percent over the next three years—helping The Dalles recruit new nurses and shrinking the wage gap between Mid-Columbia Medical Center and its closest competitor, Providence Hood River Medical Center.

If approved, the new agreement take effect immediately.

Local nurses have been working without a contract since late June. In July, nurses signed and hand-delivered more than 130 petitions to Mid-Columbia Medical Center’s CEO Dennis Knox calling on Knox and the hospital’s board of trustees to work with nurses to improve patients’ health care and address chronic staffing and retention problems.

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.

This press release was provided by Oregon Nurses Association