Healthcare workers engaged in labor negotiations with Kendall Regional Medical Center executives have filed complaints with a Florida regulatory agency alleging that hospital administrators don’t have enough employees in critical care areas, allowed sanitary conditions to slip below state standards and ignored labor’s concerns about those issues.
A group of at least 40 employees represented by SEIU 1199, which began negotiations on a new contract in February, filed an initial complaint in July — and said they intend to follow with a second grievance next week alleging inadequate staffing of Kendall Regional’s trauma, intensive care, behavioral health and childbirth units.
Administrators for Kendall Regional, which is owned by the national hospital chain HCA, did not directly address labor’s concerns but suggested that employees’ complaints are related to ongoing contract negotiations.
“Informational pickets sometimes occur when a union and an employer are engaged in contract negotiations,” Peter Jude, a hospital spokesman, said in a written statement. “Meetings are scheduled on October 21 and 22 to continue these discussions. … Kendall Regional Medical Center believes that the details of bargaining are best discussed at the bargaining table.”
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SEIU employees demonstrated with picket signs and a press conference outside of the hospital this week, stating that they have decided to file a second complaint with the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration after no action was taken on their first grievance.
Shelisha Coleman, a spokeswoman for AHCA, said the agency has not investigated the complaint because “the information provided was not specific enough.” Nor did the complaint letter include contact information for AHCA to follow up, she said.
Eduardo Eguino, a surgical technician and union delegate, said members have shared their concerns about low staffing with Kendall Regional administrators, who have hired additional staff.
“But it’s still not sufficient enough,” Eguino said, adding that employees have more work and less time to do it.
“People are exposed to working with infectious materials,” he said of hospital employees. “They’re basically unsung heroes in this community. They dedicate their lives to ensure that patients recover in a clean and safe environment.”