Frustrated St. Charles-Bend nurses to 'info picket'

Talks on new contract not going well

St. Charles-Bend nurses plan info picketing

BEND, Ore. - It's the place everyone in Central Oregon relies on in case of a major emergency, St. Charles Medical Center-Bend. For 2 1/2 months, the nurses have been working with an expired contract -- and on Monday, they are headed to the picket lines, but not on strike.

"The biggest sticking point for the nurses is the attack on patient care," said Bruce Humphreys, a nurse at St. Charles and chairman of the Oregon Nurses Association collective bargaining group.

The ONA leaders say eliminating "charge nurses" -- the ones who manage and assign the responsibilities of the rest of the nursing staff -- could negatively impact patient care.

Not so, says the hospital.

"The proposal that we set forth (Wednesday_ night provides more nurses at the bedside," said Bruce Eixenberger, the hospital's chief nursing officer.

The hospital wants to create a new position called a clinical supervisor. That job would, it says, take over administrative duties from the charge nurses, freeing them up to work directly with patients.

"We will probably not sign a deal that includes clinical supervisors in lieu of charge nurses," said Humphreys.

The stalemate has pushed things to the picket lines, but both sides agree: Monday afternoon's planned informational picket, will be off-duty nurses only.

"Nurses will be here taking care of patients with the love and respect and compassion that we've been providing for years," said Eixenberger.

The union says the future of 670 full- and part-time nurses is on the line. But after 17 negotiating session with no agreement, perhaps more important to you, which side has the better plan for your future care.

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