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Nurses Ratify a New Contract

Agreement comes after months of debate between St. Charles and ONA

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With a tentative contract on the table over the past several weeks, the nurses at St. Charles Medical Center have voted in favor to ratify their four-and-a-half year contract.

A majority of the over 900 nurses at St. Charles needed to sign on to complete the ratification—so after months of back and forth, many people involved are breathing a sigh of relief that the new contract can finally begin.

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"We are happy to have reached a contract agreement that both the nurses and St. Charles leaders feel good about," Debbie Robinson, chief nursing officer for St. Charles Bend said in a press release. "While it took many months of conversations, we ended in a good place and we are all ready to come together and continue doing what we do best – providing quality care for our patients."



With the contract officially ratified, St. Charles and the Oregon Nurses Association will begin the process of translating the terms into contract language in the coming weeks. 

Here are a few of the highlights from the newly ratified contract:

  • Nurses will get more flex time with added groups among departments. This will allow nurses to move around in similar departments—a move aimed at offering better treatment for patients' specific needs.
  • There will be a new shared governance model that helps address accountability around staffing issues.
  • Different step levels will allow the hospital to place new hires in areas that match their years of experience.
  • New wages and benefits are offering variable cost-of-living increases aimed at supplying nurses with a more secure lifestyle.
The contract appears to directly address a lot of the issues nurses and the ONA brought up throughout the negotiations, including quality of staffing and better wages.
"The newly ratified contract helps ensure we are providing the best quality care for our community," said local  nurse leader and ONA bargaining unit chair David Hilderbrand in a joint release from ONA and St. Charles. "We look forward to taking the next step of implementing the new contract and utilizing the new tools provided to address shared concerns like staffing and practice standards, which allows us to focus on our patients."

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