Union claims Valley Care has ‘covert’ plan to fire LPNs

By Burton Speakman



The union representing nurses at ValleyCare Trumbull Memorial Hospital claims ValleyCare has plans to eliminate 47 positions.

The Service Employees International Union 1199 claims ValleyCare Health Systems of Ohio is planning to get rid of all 47 licensed practical nurses who work at the hospital. The union released a statement calling the move “a drastic change to the current delivery of care provided to patients of the hospital.”

“Our community deserves qualified, experienced bedside caregivers with the right education and skills,” said Ruth Herner-Farley, a licensed practical nurse of 32 years at TMH and member of SEIU 1199. “LPNs are highly qualified, cost-effective members of the nursing team, and eliminating this vital piece of our care team would have a major impact on the quality of care our patients receive at Trumbull Memorial Hospital.”

ValleyCare has released a statement about the issue. It says, “On May 7, 2014, the hospital initiated discussions with the Service Employees International Union District 1199 regarding our plans to transition to a nurse staffing model that uses registered nurses and nursing assistants. This model uses RNs to provide most of the patient care.”

The company further stated it has offered to work with the union to help transition LPNs who would be impacted.

LPNs typically have received an associate degree while RNs have earned a bachelor’s degree. In addition, RNs can have additional duties that LPNs cannot, according to the Ohio Board of Nursing.

Based on information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the number of RNs is growing faster than LPNs, and within Ohio, there are nearly 100,000 more RNs than LPNs working.

The union believes these potential cuts will have an adverse impact on patient care.

According to the statement from the union, LPNs perform a wide range of duties including preparing and administering medications, injections and IV antibiotics and inserting and monitoring IVs, applying dressings, wound care, calling and implementing doctors’ orders, pre- and post-operative care and education of diagnoses such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, stroke and heart anomalies and monitor patients for adverse reactions to medications or treatments.

“We should not be putting the care of our patients at risk just to increase profits for hospital executives,” said Chrissy Heineman, administrative organizer with SEIU 1199 and chief negotiator for Trumbull Memorial Hospital workers.

“We have a model that works for our community, our patients and our hospital. Hospital executives should be putting patients over profits, not burdening nurses and other overworked care providers with things that LPNs are qualified to do,” she said.

The union also has stated that if this firing did proceed, it would be a violation of the contract with the union that is in place until 2016. SEIU 1199 represents approximately 250 workers at TMH and more than 600 in the ValleyCare Health System in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky.

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