With the COVID-19 situation having the potential to pose a significant public health concern for our community, it’s important we remain vigilant.
We are hopeful that the state and community effort to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus is successful, but we at Providence are in the midst of preparing for the worst-case scenario.
That’s why we are deeply disappointed that Alaska Medical Employees Association (AMEA) has notified us that they intend to strike beginning March 20 for an unspecified length of time.
By calling this ill-timed strike, I believe the union is demonstrating a lack of concern for the public health and the well-being of our community.
Simply put, I feel that the union’s actions are highly irresponsible. Providence respects the rights of workers to participate in union activities, but the timing of this work stoppage is as shocking as it is disappointing.
We had been encouraged that the union would accept temporarily suspending negotiations for 30-45 days, which we asked for in order to allow hospital staff to focus on COVID-19 preparedness.
The tenor of that discussion with the union’s negotiator was positive and we believed there was reason to be optimistic. Regretfully, AMEA decided to issue a 10-day strike notice anyway.
Leaders at Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center will continue to focus on the hospital’s planning and response for the COVID-19 public health emergency taking shape across the U.S.
Our goal is to be as prepared as possible for the virus in the event it makes its way to Kodiak Island.
Now, in the midst of these efforts, we must also prepare for a strike. We are hiring replacement workers who will travel to Kodiak from other locations across the United States.
This is something we must do to ensure our patients continue to receive the high-quality care our community expects from Providence. The union has not told us how long they will be on strike, so these replacement workers will be in place for a minimum of five days — possibly much longer. As a critical access hospital serving our remote community, we must plan for worst case scenarios.
As the date for the strike approaches, we will share frequent updates on our website. We ask for patience and grace from our community while we navigate through this challenging period.
Gina Bishop,RN, CEN, PhD,
chief executive officer,
Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center