Humboldt County Providence Hospital staff fight for accurate paychecks – Times-Standard

Many healthcare workers at hospitals in Providence say they suffered six weeks of pay errors, including unpaid hours ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars of work for which they were never compensated.

At a press conference Tuesday, the National Union of Health Care Workers, which represents caregivers across California — and includes caregivers at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Eureka and Redwood Memorial Hospital in Fortuna — accused Providence for hurting thousands of caregivers through erroneous base pay cuts, missing paid or unpaid leave, unpaid working hours and missing pension contributions.

“Providence would be unable to run the hospital and medical centers that our communities rely on without our caregivers, which is why we cannot understand how a multi-million dollar company is unable to pay its employees a fair wage. for fair work in accordance with our contracts,” said Meredyth Diehlmann, laboratory assistant at Redwood Memorial Hospital.

At the conference, caregivers denounced Providence for unpaid hours resulting from the implementation of a new resource planning system.

In a statement, Providence acknowledged that some checks were misposted, but said most paychecks were issued correctly.

“Since the new system went live, the vast majority of paychecks that have been issued are correct,” a statement from Providence said. “However, some showed incorrect or partial pay. In most cases, this is due to routine issues, such as timesheet correction forms submitted after the deadline or no time submitted on a timesheet. There have also been variances related to recent changes to modernize the compensation program in the Providence family of organizations. Additionally, some data configuration adjustments need to be made to account for nuances in the compensation structure of the various Providence locations. »

Providence said as of Friday most of the issues were resolved, but some caregivers were struggling with payroll issues due to the “pattern of shift differential data,” particularly in Northern California. Providence said it would provide an immediate $500 mitigation payment to each of the 207 affected caregivers on Tuesday.

But the mitigation payment might not cover everyone with unpaid hours or cover the full amount of financial loss. During the press conference, Patricia Flippen, a surgical technician at Redwood Memorial Hospital, said that on July 8, she noticed that she was 137 hours short of on-call pay, totaling more than $1,000 in unaccounted income. .

On the next paycheck, on July 22, Flippen noticed that 82 hours of overtime pay was missing and she had not received the previous pay that was missing from her check.

“I was very frustrated, stressed and the financial pressure was impacting the rest of my life. My children are relying on me and I have made tough choices like skipping bills to make sure I can cover basic necessities. my kids. Skipping some bills has lasting effects, especially on my credit as I try to buy a house,” Flippen said.

After submitting HR tickets expressing concerns and not getting a response from anyone regarding the issue for over a week, then finally being told the issue was resolved, Flippen decided to undertake a itinerant work.

“That was my breaking point. Being completely ignored, lied to and unsure of how long it would take for this issue to be solved or resolved, ultimately led to my decision to start traveling. I couldn’t keep wondering when I get paid,” Flippen said.

Sean Taylor, a surgical inventory technician at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, said given the delays in previous payments, Providence has promised its workers it will believe the $500 payments when it sees them. .

Lesley Ester, a registered nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital, told the meeting that payroll issues are compounding the hospital’s struggle with staff as it tries to recruit and retain caregivers. Understaffing can lead to diminished services, and Ester noted that some patients needing minor surgeries end up being sent to out-of-county hospitals hours away, racking up tens of thousands of dollars on the bill. patient in emergency transport costs.

Ester added that while nurses also see missing paychecks, ancillary staff can especially struggle with missed paychecks.

“We cannot, as registered nurses, provide safe patient care without ancillary staff, and ancillary staff will not stay because they are struggling to pay rent, buy food, pay for their car and to buy gasoline without receiving the salary he earned. And I just want to say just to end here, shame on Providence. Shame on Providence for the way it treats its employees and for the way it is not transparent in saying how many problems currently exist,” Ester said.

Additionally, Providence nurses who are members of the California Nurses Association at Humboldt County hospitals plan to picket Thursday, protesting unsafe staffing, pay issues and the administration’s alleged refusal from the hospital to deal with both. The picket will be at 2700 Dolbeer outside Providence St. Joseph Hospital.

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