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Thursday, November 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Guest Opinion

Peg Currie: Providence focuses on shared values during labor talks

Peg Currie

At Providence, we take pride in knowing we have been the Spokane area’s health partner for more than 130 years. Our patients and employees are the heart of our mission, and we are committed to serving everyone in this community, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.

With the possibility of a strike at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center looming, it may be tempting to frame the issues as black and white, and make sweeping judgments about who is right and who is wrong.

Our bargaining teams are working diligently to reach agreements that are consistent with our values and promote our shared interests. While negotiations are ongoing, we remain steadfast in our promise to deliver quality care to our community and bargain in good faith.

We value the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance for our employees. Because of this, we have put together a comprehensive and flexible time-off package benefiting all employees.

This package provides greater financial security and more flexibility when unexpected needs arise. From our long-tenured employees to those who recently joined our team, all employees would receive the time off and income replacement they need and deserve.

We recognize that employees who have worked for many years have earned benefits they want to protect. That’s why we have built in a structure to help transition them to the new system.

Among the highlights of our time-off package, we propose to do the following:

    Provide paid time off for vacations, holidays, personal and sick days. New hires start with five paid weeks off per year, while longer-term employees receive up to seven paid weeks off per year.

    Replace the antiquated and inequitable extended illness time program with a new employer-paid short-term disability benefit. This new benefit provides greater coverage for those who are newly hired or those who have used extended leave in the past. Those who need leave due to an extended illness or injury can receive 65% income replacement for up to 25 weeks with no pre-existing condition exclusions.

    Provide paid parental leave to new moms and dads with 65% of pay for six weeks following a birth, adoption or placement of a foster child. Birth mothers would receive short-term disability pay as well, so they could receive benefits for 12 to 14 weeks, depending on the type of birth.

    Coordinate with Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave effective in 2020, providing eligible employees up to 12 weeks of partial income replacement in the event an illness or injury, or to care for a new child or sick family member.

Providence’s approach to negotiations has always been, and will continue to be, consistent with our shared priorities of quality and safety. All employees take pride in the high-quality care we provide to our community. U.S. News and World Report recently recognized Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center as the Best Regional Hospital. This recognition from an outside organization recognizes our dedication to high-quality patient care performance.

I know our employees have some of the toughest jobs in health care. We are committed to creating an exceptional and supportive work environment for our employees so we can continue to attract and retain the best people. Our proposals reflect the value we place in our employees by ensuring they stay healthy and are supported when they most need it. When our employees are at their best, so are our patients.

Throughout the contract negotiation process, Providence has remained focused on our mission and the extraordinary people who make it possible for our patients to lead their healthiest lives possible. It is a privilege to be our community’s health partner and to serve those in need. We will continue to provide the compassionate care our patients and employees depend on and deserve.

Peg Currie, R.N. is the chief executive at Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children’s Hospital and Holy Family Hospital, and chief operating officer at Providence Health Care.

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