You would not know it from the latest ads from hospital management, but the nurses of Kalispell Regional Healthcare are calling for transparency, consistency, and safe staffing with input from frontline nurses. We are seeking a wage scale comparable to that of hospitals in Missoula, Bozeman and Billings so nurses can afford to live and stay here. Nurses have put in the work to organize with our coworkers to make our workplace one that respects all individuals. KRH management prides themselves on the hospital being “anti-bullying” and “anti-misinformation,” and claim that they appreciate the nurses. But what we see in the hospital, at the bargaining table and in the community is a backhanded, misleading campaign against the nurses’ union that disregards the voice and expertise of bedside caregivers.
Nurses need a true voice in policy decisions and a place on the hospital board to help prevent the administration from blindsiding us with changes that negatively impact our working conditions and ability to provide the highest quality patient care, like the restructuring that forced out many of the expert nurses. Giving nurses a voice would place the care of our own community ahead of the mad rush to acquire outside clinics and hospitals. Nurses’ participation on the board would bring added accountability in the use of funds and give greater assurance against any conduct that could incur further federal fines.
The administration has made working nurses into adversaries precisely because we are trying to make the hospital a fairer and safer place to work and to receive care. We believe that the business of a hospital is excellence in patient care, not excessive administrative salaries, bonuses, and monopolistic expansion.
Nurses are here to help guide the hospital back in the right direction and are waiting for a respectful counter proposal at the bargaining table.
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