Hospital board imposes new contract on nurses

Split decision draws ire of El Camino's nurses' union

Last night, in a divided decision, the board of directors for El Camino Hospital unilaterally approved a new contract between the healthcare organization and its nurses' union.

The "last, best and final offer," hospital officials said, was a necessary money saving measure in difficult times. It was uniformly opposed by the nurses union and called "unfair, unnecessary" and disrespectful by a nurse who addressed the board.

The motion to approve the contract carried with a 3-2 vote. Board members Wesley F. Alles, David Reeder and John L. Zoglin voted in favor the new contract. Board members Patricia A. Einarson and Uwe R. Kladde opposed the motion.

Upon passage of the motion a murmur of discontent rippled through the crowd of about 50 nurses who had gathered to demonstrate the union's opposition to the contract.

"It's a joke," one nurse said to colleagues as she walked out of the meeting room. Nurses are unhappy with changes and cuts to the amount of paid time off, sick leave, medical benefits and compensation.

During the meeting, many nurses whispered disapproval and made incredulous expressions as hospital administrators explained why they felt the changes and cuts were needed.

Ken Graham, CEO of the hospital, said that healthcare reform and falling revenues due to the nationwide recession forced the hospital to make the cuts. "We do not believe this will be perceived as anything but responsible by the community," Graham said.

Charlene Glinieki, chief people officer for El Camino, said she sympathizes with the views of the nurses union, but agreed with Graham.

"Obviously we would prefer not to need to implement these changes," Glinieki said. However, she added, in order to meet the financial challenges the hospital is facing, "these changes are necessary."

Pat Briggs, president of Professional Resource for Nurses, the hospital's nurses union, told the board that she feels that a better contract could be drafted, if only the hospital would give the nurses' bargaining unit more time.

"We want one more chance to go back to the table and reach an agreement," Briggs told the board, noting that she sympathizes with the tight financial situation the hospital is facing.

Over the summer El Camino Hospital announced that it would have to lay off 140 employees, including support staff, nurses and administrators, in order to deal with falling revenues largely attributed to lower patient volumes. The majority of support staff and nurses' jobs were saved, however, after union negotiations shuffled employees around to different positions within the hospital.

El Camino Hospital nurses contract


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Posted by MartinD
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 11, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Mountain View Voice, July 31, 2009

El Camino's top execs get salary increases

The new salaries of the executive team have increased by 4 to 6 percent. They now range from $189,000 for the vice president of professional corporate and community health services to $632,640 for the chief executive officer, Ken Graham. Most of the executives make a yearly salary of somewhere between $200,000 and $400,000.

There are two different worlds.

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Posted by PH
a resident of another community
on Nov 11, 2010 at 3:10 pm

I have family working at El Camino Hospital. They are good, dedicated, long term employess who are being put in the middle of this financial dilema and it makes their lives much more stressful. I would like to see a report about the members of the management and board and whether they are making the kind of cuts to their own salaries and benefits they are imposing on the employees.
The new health insurance costs alone make a huge dent in take home pay or if under the minimum plan wii not be useful. The people at this hospital are doing a wonderful job (I had surgey as an outpatient recently) and we all need to support them. They are the people in our community and they are a vital part of our economy.

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Posted by Upset Citizen
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 11, 2010 at 4:32 pm

I can't believe that the CEO of El Camino Hospital can take a yearly salary of $632,640 when there are employees that must take pay cuts.

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Posted by Rita Nutile
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Nov 11, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Why do the nurses always have to take the loss in salary? They end up with direct contact with the patient and accept the complaints. I was a Nurse for over 40 years in Wisconsin, Ma, VA, and CA most of the time. Never once did a CEO come to the Unit. We came to the meetings presented by administation on our own times. We were docked either by pay or evaluation if we did not come in no matter what shift was worked. RNRN. .

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Posted by Who is laughing now?
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 11, 2010 at 6:01 pm

I bet Mr. Graham is laughing. He first lied when he said there weren't going to be layoffs. Then he lied when he said that only a few would get letters and then sent letters out a couple of weeks later. Then he lied when he said just the few people would be let go to allow the others to remain unharmed; turns out that only non-represented people got let go but everyones' benefits still got cut and almost everyone had their hours cut.

Ken and his crew didn't get a raise or take a bonus, big whoop! They are laughing all the way to the bank with their 6-figure salaries with complete support of the board and in that vein, the community who voted them in.

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Posted by MVFlyer
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 11, 2010 at 6:10 pm

What really irks me about the CEO's salary is that the governor of California only gets $212K (which, incidentally, Arnold doesn't accept)--you mean to tell me that running a community hospital is worth 3x the governor of a state of 32M+ people??????

They need to voluntarily take a 20% across the board pay cut for senior excecutives before they start dealing with their unions--show some good faith here!!!!!!!!!!! Don't blame the workers for the state of the medical profession and the economy. Or is it a "let them eat cake" moment?

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Posted by Joanne
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 12, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Where's the integrity of the board and administrative geam of the hospital? For the past three years, it has been no secret that large sums of money been spent on capital improvements, "Administrative/Board Team Retreats", Magnet Conference with all expenses paid for a small group of nursing leaders and hand picked RN's. The Magnet process alone (and the application fee)are very costly.
My burning curiosities are:
What is the Board of Directors doing to independantlyaudit expenditures and identify errors in judgement made by hospital leaders?
Is there ANYONE being held accountable for the financial hemorrahge besides the scapegoated "resignation" of the former CFO?

There are operational oversights that have been kept under the radar and exposure to the mishaps needs to happen for the community at large. We of the community do pay taxes to support the hospital. I for one would like to know exactly how our tax money has been safeguarded or wasted!

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Posted by Lilly
a resident of another community
on Nov 13, 2010 at 8:46 pm

I can imagine that morale is down at the hospital and that disrespectful comments do not help. The hospital says that nurses, management, and non-union employees have not gotten increases in 2010, so Martin's comment is misleading. I hear that there have not been salary cuts, despite the hospital's financial problems. Employees do not realize that many members of our community have received pay cuts and that unemployment is over 12%. The nurses should be thankful that most jobs were saved, there have not been paycuts, and their benefits are still really good. I applaud the Board for making a tough decision during rough economic times.

I hope that the nurses understand the changes are necessary, stop being angry, and regain their commitment to being great nurses.

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Posted by Elcamino RN
a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2010 at 5:05 am

I have been an RN at Elcamino Hospital for over 20 years. I had all my children at ECH and have been a patient myself. ElCamino is great place to receive the best Nursing care there is in the valley. We are a Magnent hospital, very few California hospitals are Magnent. We are Magnent for the nursing care we provide, not for any other reason. The hospital receives money and perks for being not only a Magnent hospital but a stroke center and mind you, we just received a gold award for the care we give to stroke patients, we are one of very few hospitals in the bay area that have received this award.We are also a chest pain center. All this is accomplished by nurses, yet we are the ones that are always taking the brunt of cuts in the hospital. We have TUGS which are robots the hosptial paid millions for,not only one but at least 6 of them, which took the jobs of the people that used to deliver items.No we did not get a pay cut but please we are the lowest paying hospital in the bay area by 5-10 percent and they have cut our insurance and our vacation time and have made us feel that we do not count. WE, the nurses are the ones that give this hospital the name and the reputation that it has today.I am here working 12 hours a night, I am here taking care of your love ones in the middle of the night while you are at home sleeping, I am here on weekends and holidays, while you are at home with your family and away from mine. I am almost embarrassed to work here any longer. The hospital paid hundreds and hundreds of thousands to a consultant team to come in and tell where we need to cut cost. Did they say we were too FAT on top, of course not, yet we have to cut where it compromises patient care and satisfaction. We have garbage overflowing, dirty beds for at least up to 12hours, no transporters at night to help even bring a sandwich for a patient that is hungry. All the cuts have been made from the people who have made ElCamino what it is today and that is your community hospital. The nurses here are part of this community and we have families too to provide for, we have bills, we have mortgages, are cost go up just like everyone elses. This used to be agreat place to work, but not anylonger. Please support the nurses at ElCamino, we give great care to you and your family when you are in need. We deserve to be recognized for the great care we give and not slapped in the face by our employer. Thank you

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Posted by Blane
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 16, 2010 at 11:27 am

Lets see worst recession in 50 years, new health care insurance rules, financial holes dug 5-10 years ago, financing for a new building in place then the market crashes....... Across the country, hospitals are taking financial hits. They are seeing losses in the portfolios that they rely on for investment income. The number of uninsured patients is rising. Elective procedures -- which reap big profits -- are down at a third of hospitals nationwideyes the nurses deserve to be treated fairly but no one will ever say its fair if they personally have cutbacks. The knobs you have to turn to save millions of dollars in healthcare these days is finite. Look around in valley at what happened in this down turn....thousands of jobs lost, schedules cut back and pay cuts are common. People keep griping about the Executives salaries....well wake up! CEOs and executives make good money as it takes a hell of a lot of expertise to do their job. I love reading people snipe at these guys/gals when 99% of us have no real clue what they face. From everything I have read the Execs and Graham make under the median salaries for someone in their role. They took no raise and as I understand it no one got bonuses. Is that not prudent? Its their job to ensure the hospital is healthy financially so when there is a problem they have to react. Do you think they enjoy this mess? The real test will be when the economy is back and what they are able to do to reconcile for these tough times with their nurses. Instead of firing on these guys from behind a computer go to a board meeting and speak up help them see things in a different light and offer some constructive ideas... Do you all really believe they sit around trying to figure out ways to screw people over and simply make money for themselves? Get real its nice to grasp onto some preconceived stereotype about executives but until you have walked in their shoes and face these situations your blowing hot air with your wild misconceptions. I have had great experiences at El Camino and have a ton of repect for the nurses, their quality and compassion and what they do. I also know that delaing with unions in tough finaical times is challeneging to say the least. Tough times call for tough measures and I just hope everyone works togther to get through these times.

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Posted by Watching ECH
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 16, 2010 at 4:17 pm

The El Camino board is doing a performance evaluation of the CEO at a special--closed--meeting tonight.

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Posted by RN Who Cares
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 16, 2010 at 7:18 pm

"Do you all really believe they sit around trying to figure out ways to screw people over and simply make money for themselves?"


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Posted by rtired rn,1 mile from ech
a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2010 at 12:44 am

I worked at Ech more than 35 yrs,this is not new;no I don't think the adm. sits around thinking of ways to do their employees a bad deed but let's don't "Uncle Tom" either. It's that adm doesn't look at possible results and consequences and think more about reputation than not getting into situations where this type of action is deemed necessary eg.1996[preventing the hosp from being bought by lg hospital companies] and a few yrs later when people were laid off,no raises given etc. Until the cardiologists started making a name for the hospital,it was known primarily for it's good nursing care. The new hospital reminds me of a midevil stone castle:cold,spacious and cost way too much money--another occasion when adm was not looking at the future very well.

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Posted by SMS
a resident of Jackson Park
on Nov 17, 2010 at 10:15 am

I see a lot of comments targeting the Execs and CEO. Very little talk of the Board. Maybe no one wants to take claim to the fact they they voted them in. The board has their hands on every decision and have for years as most of the members look like they have had their seats for some time. Correct me if Im wrong as I dont have all the history (Im fairly new to the area) but didnt the new CEO arrive in the middle of the expansion project? Who financed the building and picked the design? Who are the new Execs vs legacy? I want to understand who inherited the mess and who was there to create it... I dont know the whole CFO history but heard they let he/she go recently? How long was this person in that role?

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Posted by PH
a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2010 at 3:26 pm

I live three miles from El Camino Hospital and have watched for forty years a growing reputation as a great hospital, and every experience I, and those I talk to, have had is very positive. The people working at ECH smile and treat you well in spite of their growing fears that they might be the next to go or get their hours and benefits cut. They are enduring hard times with the rest of us, but are the people we count on when we need real help. When a patient crashes the first person to help them will probably be a nurse who will in that moment be the saviour of someone who is the loved one of one of us. We need these people and all the people from the bottom up to insure our continued care.
I have also seen a full page add telling the public that the hospital is trying to negotiate a better deal with Anthem-Blue Cross and that if they don't get it they will drop that companies plan. In essence, we are being told that we must suffer the consequences of their actions along with their employees and as a result the management is, in their efforts to reduce costs, hurting the patients and only making the case for the employees stronger. Stand with these people, at least in spirit, as we all need to get toghether and keep this hospital the great place it is.

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Posted by SMS
a resident of Jackson Park
on Nov 17, 2010 at 3:41 pm

I too saw the ad...but what do you expect them to do if the Anthem rates wont cover the cost of care? Are they supposed to take a loss on every Anthem patients transaction which would lead to further losses and further cuts? The ad as I see it is an effot at transparancy and to give people notice/the opportunity to change providers and remain at El Camino during this seasons enrollment so there are no surpirzes should the negociations fail. It doesnt sound like they are trying to beat Anthem down but to get them on par with other providers. Im 100% with you on supporting everyone over there during this tough time. The place is amazing and provides great care we need to keep it on track and improving.

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Posted by RN at ECH
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 18, 2010 at 7:10 am

El Camino forecasts profit by fiscal year's end (Mt. View Voice 9/23/10)

I've been an RN at El Camino for a long time. I understand the need to be fiscally responsible. But does that mean not having snacks for patients? Does that mean not changing their linens everyday to save on our laundry bill? Does that mean cutting back on how many RNs are on the unit? This is what is happening right now!

Meanwhile we have a grand piano, paid trips to conferences, and huge salaries for upper management.

I still see RNs working to make this hospital great. However because of the imposed contract, the RNs will have to pay more for their health insurance, will have less sick/vacation time, and will not get
any raises. To add insult to injury, because of the "reorganization" most of us had to cut our hours worked. This hospital is no longer competitive as an employer. Other hospitals have better benefits and pay.

I hear nurses talking about finding jobs elsewhere. This great community hospital is going to loose good, experienced nurses. Please support us, because the hospital isn't.

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Posted by SMS
a resident of Jackson Park
on Nov 18, 2010 at 10:59 am

What paid conferences are you referring to and who went? Do you want them to sell the piano that they bought likely years ago, Im sure that will solve the problem! Yes exectuives make good money as they have important jobs maybe the Doctors will offer to take pay cuts? Do you know what it costs to launder all the linens in the hospital if done daily regardless of the need and the savings this may offer? Maybe just maybe it will save some substancial money, is that possible? If the beds need to be changed Im sure they will! Will the patients suffer without snacks? Hmmm seems the airlines did the same thing to cut costs(no pillows, snacks) These all sound nice to have but wouldnt you rather keep your job? Do you think El Camino is in some unique bubble and no one else is having to pay more for helathcare and not getting raises this year in the valley, state or country? In the interest of clarity how many sick days/vacation days do RNs get at El Camino? Do you think your new numbers are unreasonable or would you just like more like the rest of us? Is it unreasonable to expect RNs not to acure vacation days while taking PTO? The situation is not unique for a hospital or for most large companies in the valley....look at the local head lines today today Genetech lay offs, Wells Fargo as well...its happening daily. The hope is these are temporary changes there are macro enconimics in play here, this isnt something a few "high paid" executives cooked up by driving the business into the groud....if it was there sure are very few effective Executives in Silicon Valley!

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Posted by ECH employee
a resident of another community
on Nov 18, 2010 at 6:09 pm

I have worked at El Camino for many years. Through the years I have seen the different CEO's and how they have handled it when the economy was bad back in the 90's. It is true that the current CEO came in after the initial vote for the hospital 5-6 years ago, but he was fully up to speed with all the decisions from then on. It makes me mad when the administration sits there and sees the employees suffer and tells us they are laying us off or we are having to cut hours, but they just tell us that they are not getting a bonus this year. Why don't they take a pay cut also. At least a temporary one time cut to show good faith. We are not as motivated to be helpful. They are giving the CNA's more patients. The RN's are thankfully under the CA law of 5 patients to one nurse. There are only 2 transporters per day and 2 for afternoon and none at night. They have cut us across the board, yet not for themselves. It hurts our morale! Having them cut our healthcare benefits and PTO hours is just the icing on the cake making alot of us wondering if we should dust off our resumes and start looking for another job elsewhere.

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Posted by BGP
a resident of another community
on Nov 19, 2010 at 10:31 am

You realize they(Execs) have effectively taken a pay cut by freezing the salary and forgoing a bonus correct? It appears their bonus is a major conrinutor to their overall compensation so year over year they did take a cut. They will take home significnatly less than they did in previous years. Im not sure why you say they have not cut anything from themselves. In regards to healthcare costs I dont know a single person working in a large compnay in the valley whos costs have not increased this year. If the cost to provide healthcare has gone up vs last year and they are faced with trying to reduce costs in this environment what choice do they have? Are you assuming they too arent paying more themselves for their own coverage? While I understand the percpetion of Execs not sharing the burden of cost reductions(I have felt the same way at my compnay) when you look at the facts they iddicate that the pain is being spread. It hard to compare apples to apples to hourly workers vs full time employees as you have to pull differnet levers to inmplement reductions but when you peel it all back it appears everyone is taking a hit.

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Posted by Faith Buster
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 19, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Not taking a raise by freezing an out of orbit salary and not getting a bonus is not the same as having your hourly income cut by last minute cancelations on already reduced hours. The executives will not be able to make MORE money but there is not limit to how much LESS the other staff will be able to take home.

The employees are not idiots and know what is going on in world economics. What the executives, board and the people who voted the board members into office fail to realize is that a lot of the staff already suggested cost cutting during the construction of the new hospital and were dismissed. Employees questioned the purchase and expansion of expensive programs and facilities during questionable economic times and were dismissed. When it all blew up in the executives' faces the employees themselves were dismissed by even more expensive consulting groups.

People who tend to the life, death care and well-being of people 24/7 should expect to be treated the same respect as those to whom they tend. The service they provide is not based on sex, color, religion, or financial standing. Their service is never expected to deviate from anything less than excellent and the best no matter what the circumstances are surrounding them or what is happening in their personal lives. You expect that and wouldn't want anything less.

When you or your spouse or your child are sick, do you want someone well-rested, well-fed and living somewhere with a roof overhead taking care of you or do you want someone who is juggling 3 or 4 jobs trying to pick up hours at other hospitals, working back-to-back shifts, because vacation hours have to be used everytime a shift is canceled, coming in to work with no sleep, taking care of you or your loved ones?

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Posted by PH
a resident of another community
on Nov 20, 2010 at 8:36 am

It is understandable that the upper management at ECH has not gotten increases in income, but how and where do they live? It is not wrong to make a good living and have a comfortable life, but the people that make or break a business on a daily basis are the ones that deal with the customer. The hospital employees are in the business of ultimate customer service, personal care, many times life changing or saving. They should be able to work in one job without worrying about the basic things such as paying bills and knowing they will have a job tomorrow. These are the same problems that people have everywhere and it must change to insure the future of our economy and our nation. Supporting the hard working dedicated employees at ECH is in a sense suppoting all the hard working people who are just trying to get by and if none of us can get into a better situation then how will we ever retire and who will support us then?
Many of these employees are union people and it is popular to bash their unions these days thanks to the stories of incredible benefits and pensions some get. Most union people don't have these types of contracts and are getting less as time goes by. The good work of unions provides not only their members with good wages and benefits, but it causes non union employees to also have better working conditions as employers want to be fair to all their employees across the board and the non union employers pay the same or better to get the best people.
Remember that ECH is a small community hospital, by comparison, competing with large corporate entities and as such the playing field is never level. Anything in the way of support we give them is a good thing as it would be terrible to let our hospital become one of theirs.

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Posted by Watching2
a resident of North Whisman
on Nov 24, 2010 at 4:06 pm

"Posted by Watching ECH, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Nov 16, 2010 at 4:17 pm

The El Camino board is doing a performance evaluation of the CEO at a special--closed--meeting tonight."

What happened? Does anyone know?

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Posted by Bean Counter
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Dec 1, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Is the CEO still working there or did the board wise up and hire the consulting group to "officially" run the hospital?

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Posted by Blane
a resident of Whisman Station
on Dec 3, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Enough with the "consultant" bashing your beginning to sound like someone telling bad lawyer jokes. I certainly hope none of you use accountants, financial advisors or attorneys in your personnel lives as guess what your paying a consultant to help you through areas your not an expert in. Does using these services make you incompetent? Could you have saved money by not using them? Maybe! I know I us them to avoid digging myself into a deeper hole, hitting pitfalls I didn’t know about and to get unbiased/non political opinions. My point is there are good reasons to use consultants and often the cost may seem high upfront but the problems you can get yourself into by not seeking out expert advice can be much higher. I have to believe there are some complex issues the hospital faces and getting some expert advise in certian areas is a prudent thing to do.

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Posted by Blane
a resident of Whisman Station
on Dec 3, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Oh in case you missed the headline El Camino isnt the only one in the area being hit by Helath Care reform, budget issues and the downturn in the economy. Cant wait to watch the wildfire of comments about their CEO, BOARD and use of consultants as clearly they must be incompentant as well!

Fifty-three positions have been eliminated at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF), the organization announced Wednesday (Dec. 1).

The layoffs are being caused by financial difficulty at the nonprofit health care organization.

Those affected included nurses, medical assistants, patient-service representatives and imaging staff from multiple locations in Alameda, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties, spokeswoman Cynthia Greaves said.

"Health care reform is already bringing reductions in Medicare reimbursement," Greaves said. "Commercial insurance companies are demanding lower costs, and employers are reducing their contribution to health care benefits for employees."

The changes from the health care reform have affected what Greaves called their "affordability goals," leading PAMF to terminate the 53 employees.

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