Whidbey General Hospital employees lament conditions

A group of Whidbey General Hospital employees descended upon the June 10 hospital commissioners’ meeting to speak about the long hours they work, often days at a time with no days off or no vacation, and the less-than-average wages they earn.

Around 40 people, many of whom work in the hospital’s laboratory, attended the monthly meeting to voice their concerns.

“They are worthy of an increase in a cost of living and worthy of no reduction in benefits,” said Pat Lamont, who retired 10 days ago after working at Whidbey General Hospital for 38 years. She claimed that the management team is more concerned about numbers.

Sue Landusky, who works as a phlebotomist, said the lab has lost staff in recent months, and the hospital needs to hire higher qualified staff and retain current staff.

Others spoke about the average wages being four-to-five dollars an hour less than other hospitals, working an extended number of days without a day off or a vacation.

Audience members were also rankled by the more than 40-minute executive session hospital commissioners scheduled in the middle of the meeting to discuss potential litigation.

The hospital’s laboratory is short staffed. The lab has 31 employees currently working, which is seven employees short of a full staff. Hospital Chief Operating Officer Hank Hanigan said temporary workers were filling vacancies.

Hospital CEO Tom Tomasino said he met with the current staff to discuss the situation and the hospital’s recruiting efforts. Three lab employees were hired and four more need to be found.

Others attending advocated maintaining the continuing education reimbursement because of the high cost involved. For some employees, they have to complete 40 hours of continuing education to maintain their license. One employee mentioned a six-hour class that cost $625.

Hospital administrators are currently negotiating a new contract with the union that represents technicians and support staff — UFCW 21.