Hospital administrators and union officials have had their say on the negotiations for Brooks employees' wages and benefits. Now workers have weighed in on how the hospital is run.
As of June, the union contracts for most Brooks Hospital staff have expired. A federal mediator was brought in, but no consensus has been reached.
Hospital administration has called employees' demands unreasonable, considering the previous and anticipated annual deficits of several million dollars.
Union officials and staff have countered that claim, blaming Brooks' affiliation with UPMC for negotiating troubles. Having reached no solution by Thursday, employees picketed the hospital and held an informational rally in Washington Park.
A website, wecareforourcommunity.org, was set up by SEIU 1199 for residents to sign a petition of support for workers at Brooks, as well as showcasing testimonials from staff.
Rosie Calph, a medical records clerk for 26 years, previously told the OBSERVER that workers are not going to the negotiating table with unreasonable demands.
"We aren't asking for much. Just a fair wage for an honest day's work and the hope that the hospital does the right thing for our community," she said.
With insight into negotiations looking bleak, a look into the hospital's operations from a staff member seems no brighter.
A letter dropped off at the OBSERVER by an employee, who declined to be named due to concerns about possibly losing their position at the facility, outlines some of the staff's complaints of the hospital's operation.
"There are many things going on inside our local Brooks hospital that the community is unaware of. Since last year when Mr. Rhodes took over as CEO, many changes have occurred for the staff," the letter read.
It goes on to point out, while part-time and per diem workers were laid off, the hospital continues to hire administrative staff.
"We have way too many administrative staff and not enough front-line caregivers. One department has two managers for nine employees," it continued.
The letter also mentions longtime employees being "let go" or pressured to retire. The loss of employees has put strain on the staff remaining at the hospital, according to the letter.
"All we want is to have our patients receive proper, safe care during their time of illness. There is nothing worse as a health care worker than to go home and feel as if you couldn't take care of your patients the way they deserve to be taken care of because there is not enough staff," the letter said.
The letter, like union officials, also pointed to Brooks affiliation with UPMC as a turning point.
"Brooks hospital administration currently does not seem to care about their patients or staff. This change has been noticed ever since UPMC was joined with Brooks," it read.
The letter concludes by asking residents to stand with employees. "Our community needs to stand up for their hospital. We are asking for support so we can continue to do what we love to do - care for you and your loved ones in a safe environment."
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