Whidbey General Hospital staff speaks out on long hours, pay

Whidbey General Hospital employees spoke during a recent commissioner meeting about working conditions.  - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Whidbey General Hospital employees spoke during a recent commissioner meeting about working conditions.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

A group of Whidbey General Hospital employees attended the June 10 hospital commissioner meeting to express concerns about long hours they work, often days at a time with no days off or no vacation, and their less-than-average wages.

Around 40 people, many of whom work in the hospital’s laboratory, attended the monthly meeting to address the commissioners.

“They are worthy of an increase in a cost of living and worthy of no reduction in benefits,” said Pat Lamont, who retired 10 days ago after working at Whidbey General Hospital for 38 years.

She added that the management team is more concerned about numbers.

Sue Landusky, who works as a phlebotomist, said the lab lost staffing in recent months, and the hospital needs to hire higher qualified staff and retain current staff.

Others spoke during the Monday evening hospital commissioner meeting claimed the average wages are $4 to $5 dollars less per hour than at other hospitals. They said employees are working an extended number of days without a time off or a vacation.

The hospital’s laboratory is short staffed, they said.

The lab has 31 employee currently working, which is seven employees short of a full staff.

Whidbey General’s Chief Operating Officer Hank Hanigan said temporary workers are filling vacancies.

Hospital CEO Tom Tomasino said he met with current staff to discuss the situation and hospital’s recruiting efforts.

Three new lab employees were hired and four more need to be found.

Others attending advocated maintaining the continuing education reimbursement because of the high cost involved.

Some employees must complete 40 hours of continuing education in order to maintain their license. One employee noted that a six-hour class cost $625.

Hospital administrators re negotiating a new contract with the union that represents technicians and support staff — UFCW 21.

Audience members were rankled by the more than 40-minute executive session hospital commissioners scheduled in the middle of the meeting to discuss potential litigation.

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