Filipino nurses face lay-offs

Nurses protest layoffs at St. Rose Dominican Siena campus.

Nurses protest layoffs at St. Rose Dominican Siena campus.

By Bert Eljera

LAS VEGAS – Filipino nurses are among several employees who are likely to lose their jobs as the St. Rose Dominican hospital  here implements a plan to layoff workers.

As many as 40 positions are on the chopping block as the hospital, with three facilities in the Las Vegas area, initiate a cut-down plan.

“It’s scary,” said Rachel Chao, who has worked for nearly 10 years at one of the campuses. “With the hard economic times, you never know.”

Chao is one of about 500 Filipino nurses, nearly half of the 1,400 employees of the St. Rose hospital complex, which has recruited headily in the Philippines several years ago.

St. Rose, owned by Dignity Health, a San Francisco-based hospital chain, operates three valley hospitals: Rose de Lima Campus-on 102 East Lake Mead Parkway, in Henderson, the San Martin Campus on West Warm Springs Road and Siena Campus on  Rose Parkway in Henderson,  where Chao works.

Notices have been sent out for the 40 employees who maybe laid off, which comprise about 3% of the nurses at Siena, officials of the National Nurses Organizing Committee, which represent the nurses said.

The layoffs come just a few months after Dignity officials announced union nurses in Nevada and California had ratified new four-year contracts.

The agreements, which expire in June 2017, include a wage freeze in the first year, but an overall pay raise of nine percent over the length of the deal, according to St. Rose.

Hospital officials said a year ago they were eliminating 100 positions from the St. Rose system. The cutbacks were said to be mostly in supervisory or support positions and not in direct patient care.

But Chao, a union representative, said the layoffs affect administrative nursing positions, including charge nurses and case managers.

“They are recruiting new grads and offering them lower pay and benefits,” said Chao, who works as a half case  manager and half charge nurse. “It used to be very stable, now it’s not. We don’t want that.”

Despite the unstable situation, another long-time Filipino nurse at the hospital, Lorelei Mendez, she is not so worried because of her tenure.

“I’m not very familiar with the details of the lay-offs,” Mendez who has worked at the Siena campus for more than 10 years said. “But I think I’m pretty safe, but I’m worried about my pension.”

Last week, about 200 nurses picketed at the Siena campus.

Carrying signs and chanting at motorists, they kept warm with hot chocolate and coffee during the two-hour rally as temperatures  fell into the 40s.

“You know there’s something seriously wrong if nurses are taking to the streets,” Liz Bickle told the Las Vegas Sun. “Layoffs are just something we couldn’t take.”

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