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Nurses say LICH wants to stiff them!

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Nurses at Long Island College Hospital took to the street in front of the Cobble Hill medical center on Wednesday, alleging that the financially flatlining institution is tinkering with their contracts as it braces for new ownership.

The union nurses say that their employer is trying to back out of a commitment to preserve their jobs during the transition from the current operator Continuum Health Partners to SUNY Downstate Medical Center, whose takeover is awaiting an expected state approval.

“They’re asking to remove language in the contract that was designed specifically for situations like this!” said Herdley Hill, a nurse who has worked at the hospital for 11 years.

LICH released a statement reaffirming its “respect and admiration” for the nurses, but did not address the sticking point of the negotiations, nor did it make any indications that the showdown will be resolved anytime soon.

“We anticipate [the merger with SUNY Downstate] will take several months,” the statement read. “In the meantime, we will continue to meet with our nurses to work out a mutually agreeable collective-bargaining agreement.”

But Hill said that contractual negations had reached an impasse.

“Continuum seems to be honoring a request from SUNY,” Hill said. “They haven’t given us a rationale [for the elimination of the job security clause]. They’re not willing to negotiate!”

The irate nurses are yet another problem for LICH, which was on the brink of financial ruin until it sealed the deal last week on a merger with SUNY Downstate, which is in Crown Heights.

Roughly 500 nurses at LICH are members of the union, according to union spokeswoman Randi Hoffman.

Continuum and union representatives are expected to reconvene on Feb. 11, though nurses were not optimistic for a breakthrough.

“We would hate to go to arbitration,” said Hill. “But we’ll do whatever it takes for as long as it takes.”

Updated 9:38 am, February 5, 2010
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Reasonable discourse

Holly from Kensington says:
Some of those nurses look like they could use a good stiffing. A nice necounter with a stiff one might just loosen them up a bit.
Feb. 4, 2010, 3:39 am
Joe Nardiello from Carroll Gardens says:

Patients a Virtue?

After reading your prior coverage -- now, both the Doctors and Nurses seem neither in the loop, nor in agreement with what Continuum is doing with our vital and irreplaceable Long Island College Hospital? Aren't these 2 groups the first that should be at the table -- getting their questions all answered, and wanting to get to work serving health issues of patients at LICH?

Where's the State agencies' oversight of Continuum, and why don't we hear from SUNY or State officials over this issue? Can Continuum be trusted to ensure the best care at LICH, and doesn't that may mean respecting the wishes of its nurses and doctors? At what point is the concern over what the patient is met with -- which is the kindness, focus and skill-sets of trained, experienced doctors/nurses -- at the forefront of these negotiations. ( PS -- Why is Continuum worried about St. Vincents, by the way - if its moved LICH into such a financial state?)

Please remember every Patient are in the hands of good, qualified and motivated Doctors and Nurses -- please continue to provide them with all a voice throughout this process. It matters, if LICH loses more qualified professional RNs, etc. Please maintain and please work toward a stronger LICH - which is an institution that so many of us across downtown Brooklyn depend.
Feb. 16, 2010, 1 pm

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