Nurses union, NLRB file legal complaints about NOCH

Mark Brooky • Jul 21, 2015 at 10:56 AM

“We are frustrated with the lack of respect being shown by the hospital toward its nurses,” Sherry Thelen, president of the NOCH RN Staff Council, said in a statement released Wednesday. “The grievance procedure is something both parties have agreed to abide by — and the fact that the hospital is dragging its feet in providing MNA with the requested information is unprofessional behavior. Every minute we spend having to hold NOCH accountable for its actions is a distraction to our primary role (of) providing quality patient care.”

NOCH spokeswoman Jen VanSkiver said the MNA requested patient records as part of a labor arbitration specifically related to the discharge of one registered nurse, who is represented by the labor union, and the issue is not widespread.

According to the MNA, the complaint states three major concerns:

— The hospital has unreasonably delayed in providing certain requested information to the union.

— The hospital has failed to furnish the information requested by the union in a timely manner; and, when it was finally provided, all the dates were redacted.

— The hospital has refused to bargain with MNA toward an arrangement regarding confidential information.

The National Labor Relations Board has charged that this conduct violates sections of the National Labor Relations Act.

A hearing has been scheduled for July 13 in Grand Rapids.

“NOCH has explained to MNA that HIPAA and Michigan state law severely limit the amount of information from patient records that hospitals can give to a third party such as MNA, including dates of service,” said VanSkiver, chief communications officer for the North Ottawa Community Health System. “Protecting patient privacy has and will always be of paramount importance to this hospital. As a result, NOCH is committed to maintaining the privacy of its patient information.”

VanSkiver said the identities of patients involved and the specific dates when care was issued are irrelevant to the reasons for the nurse’s discharge.

“NOCH did provide numerous documents, with all patient information and specific dates redacted, to MNA in response to its request,” VanSkiver said. “The charge MNA filed with the National Labor Relations Board alleges that MNA is entitled to unrestricted access to all patient information requested. NOCH is cooperating fully in the NLRB process.”

More details on this story will be published in the Thursday edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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