Nurses Win Again as Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital, a Unit of Detroit Medical Center, Agrees to Settle Charges of Illegal Behavior

(DETROIT) Nurses at Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital (“Huron Valley” or “HVSH”) have won another important victory in their campaign for safe patient care and fair treatment of nurses. HVSH, based in Commerce Township, Michigan, is a unit of the Detroit Medical Center (DMC). DMC is owned by Dallas, Texas-based Tenet Healthcare.

In October 2018, the U.S. National Labor Relations Board issued a lengthy complaint  alleging multiple violations of U.S. labor law by Huron Valley. To settle some of the complaint, the hospital has agreed to share important information with nurses about nurse safety concerns, and to respect the workplace rights of nurses who are advocating for patient safety and fair working conditions.

“We’re on a winning streak, and that’s good news for our patients,” said Kathleen Lehman, a recovery nurse at Huron Valley and president of the Professional Nursing Association of Huron Valley Sinai Hospital (PNA-HVSH), affiliated with the Michigan Nurses Association (MNA). “In 2016, we won our election. In 2018, we won a great first contract that includes safe staffing language and pay raises so we can retain good nurses.”

“Now, we’ve won an agreement from the hospital to settle very serious charges alleging violations of our workplace rights,” said Lehman. “They agreed not to stonewall us about critical patient safety data, and to respect nurses who are standing up for patients and each other.”

“It’s hard to understand why it takes a federal case to get these hospital executives to do the right thing,” said Judy Moore, an Intermediate Care nurse at Huron Valley and PNA-HVSH bargaining chair. “I guess that’s what happens when you’ve got bean counters in Texas trying to run a community hospital in Michigan.”

In October 2017, the Michigan Nurses Association released a report, “Unable to Provide Safe Patient Care,” based on 240 Assignment Despite Objection (ADO) reports from RNs at Huron Valley.  The ADO reports documented unsafe conditions including patient falls, medication delivered late, patients left unattended, and nurses assigned to units without proper training.

Executives at Huron Valley refused to accept ADO reports from RNs. Instead, nurses were instructed by their supervisors to file reports about unsafe conditions using the hospital’s internal complaint procedure – the Medical Information Data Analysis System (MIDAS). But the hospital refused to provide RNs with copies of the reports they submitted, or to provide any data derived from the reports.

Under terms of the NLRB-approved settlement, HVSH executives will now provide nurses and their union representatives with relevant MIDAS data cited in specific information requests.

“You can’t solve a problem if you don’t know what it is,” said Ann Kastelen, an Emergency Room nurse at Huron Valley.  “We need transparency about what’s going on at our hospital, so we can all work together to provide the best possible care for our patients.

The settlement also requires Huron Valley:

  • Not to unlawfully prohibit nurses from wearing buttons or other insignia related to union issues and issues related to terms and conditions of employment;
  • To rescind a memo preventing nurses from wearing buttons stating “RNs demand safe staffing”;
  • To allow MNA members at Huron Valley access to their union representatives and access to conference rooms for union meetings;
  • To provide necessary and relevant information to the union on request;
  • To bargain in good faith with Huron Valley RNs;
  • To inform nurses of the terms of this settlement and to post notices stating that Huron Valley will not interfere with, restrain or coerce nurses in the exercise of their rights protected by the National Labor Relations Act

Two additional NLRB charges against Huron Valley were not settled and a decision is pending following a February trial before an administrative law judge. One is a citation against the hospital for refusing to share information about why nurses leave HVSH; another cites Huron Valley for changing work schedules without notice or negotiation.

PNA-HVSH (MNA) represents approximately 350 RNs at Huron Valley Sinai Hospital.

“There’s just a few hundred of us, and we’re taking on – successfully – one of the biggest healthcare corporations in America,” said Lehman. “We’re winning because we’re standing up for professional standards of safe patient care. The facts are on our side. The law is on our side. And our friends and neighbors are on our side.”

During their campaign to organize and win a fair contract, RNs at Huron Valley canvassed communities near the hospital, gathering thousands of signatures on petitions in support of safe patient care and placing hundreds of lawn signs at neighborhood residences.

Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital, a 153-bed facility, was founded as a non-profit hospital in 1986. In 1997, HVSH was acquired by the Detroit Medical Center, which in turn was purchased for $1.5 billion in 2010 by Vanguard Health Systems. In 2013, Vanguard was purchased for $1.8 billion by Tenet Healthcare Corporation, a Dallas-based multinational company with over 130,000 employees and more than $19 billion in annual revenue.

The settlement agreement signed by Huron Valley Sinai Hospital and approved by the National Labor Relations Board is here.

A copy of the workplace notices posted in Huron Valley under terms of the settlement is here.

The Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) is the largest, most effective union for registered nurses in Michigan, advocating for nurses and their patients at the State Capitol, in the community, and at the bargaining table.

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Contact: Roger Kerson 734-645-0535

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