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Nurses at Willamette Valley Medical Center File to Unionize and Join ONA

Nurses are advocating for a strong voice to improve patient care and safety

Nurses at Willamette Valley Medical Center in McMinnville filed for a union election to join the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) Nov. 22, 2019. Local nurses submitted 131 union authorization cards to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB will set a date for nurses' union election in the next few weeks.

Willamette Valley Medical Center is McMinnville’s only hospital and one of only two for-profit hospitals in Oregon. Despite high profits, the hospital’s safety and health care quality scores have dropped precipitously since it was bought by out-of-state corporation LifePoint Health in 2018. In fall 2019, Willamette Valley Medical Center received the worst hospital safety grade in Oregon from industry watchdog The Leapfrog Group. Over the last two years, Willamette Valley’s Leapfrog safety scores have dropped from consistent A grades to Cs and Ds.

“Nurses are standing up to protect our patients and improve our community’s health care,” said Corey Mertz, a longtime nurse at Willamette Valley Medical Center. “McMinnville is our home. Nurses are proud of the care we provide but we can’t do it alone. We need a strong, collective voice to advocate for our patients and improve safety throughout the hospital.”

Nurses at Willamette Valley Medical Center have been organizing with the Oregon Nurses Association for the past year in order to raise safety standards, improve patient care, ensure fair treatment for workers and gain a local voice in hospital decision-making.

“We’re ready to help Willamette Valley Medical Center live up to its mission to deliver amazing care every time. Our patients and our community deserve that,” said Jenie White, a nurse at Willamette Valley Medical Center. “Nurses know we can provide the best health care in the region right here at Willamette Valley. We just need a seat at the table to make sure we’re putting our patients first.”

The NLRB will determine an election date in the next few weeks. If the majority of nurses vote to join ONA, they will elect a local nurse leadership team and begin contract negotiations with Willamette Valley Medical Centers executives on how to improve patient safety, raise workplace standards and reinvest in the local community.

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