Palomar Pomerado Health System Challenges Nurses’ Signature Campaign for Unionization
Palomar Pomerado Health system officials will not "honor the results" of a signature campaign by nurses to gain union representation, according to a memo distributed recently to nurses, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The release of the memo has led to accusations by pro-union nurses that system officials are trying to intimidate nurses (Berhman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/6). Nurses at the system, which includes the Palomar Medical Center in Escondido and Pomerado Hospital in Poway, have been requesting an election for months to decide whether a majority of the 600 nurses want to join the California Nurses Association. Their efforts became easier on Jan. 1, when a law (AB 1281) took effect that allows supporters to simply gather signatures of a majority of nurses to approve unionization, removing the need for an election (California Healthline, 2/5). In the memo, "Talking Points Regarding Authorization Cards," system officials urge employees not to sign authorization cards distributed by union supporters because "they are giving up their right to a secret-ballot election." The memo also states that "PPH will not recognize CNA as a representative of registered nurses unless a majority of the nurses voting in a secret-ballot election choose CNA." Gil Taylor, the district's vice president of human resources, defended the memo, saying, "We feel it is an unfair law. We are looking at all our options to oppose this law." But Ted Cahill, a CNA organizer, called the memo "a rhetorical threat to intimidate nurses from signing cards and create a doubt in their minds that the district would recognize any union organization." He added, "The law is rock solid ... and we don't think the district will be able to legally challenge it" (Berhman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/6).
In related news, the Division of Licensing and Certification issued a report yesterday finding that Pomerado Hospital doctors left a surgical sponge inside a patient in September 2001 that was not discovered until last month, despite the patient's "repeated complaints of pain," the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The incident marks Palomar Pomerado Health's third such surgical error in "a little more than a year." In September 2000, a surgical team at Palomar Medical Center left a 14-inch metal retractor inside a patient's stomach that was not discovered for 17 days. The same month, a different surgical team at the center left a sponge in a patient that was discovered five days later. Hitesvara Saravan, administrator for the state's Northern San Diego licensing and certification district, said, "We are certainly concerned about this [latest] incident. But we feel that the facility has taken corrective action and will be making every effort to not have a repeat incident" (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.