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Calais hospital employees call for 2-day strike, demand CEO’s firing

The Maine State Nurses Association has authorized an employee strike at Calais Regional Hospital for Nov. 18-20 over "poor leadership" of the hospital CEO.

CALAIS, Maine — Calais Regional Hospital (CRH) employees have called for a two-day strike next week, the Maine State Nurses Association announced Tuesday.

According to a press release, the strike was approved last week by a nearly unanimous authorization vote, prompting the 10-day notice required by law for health care employees before a strike. The Nurses Association says nearly 50 nurses and staff members will strike from Nov. 18 to Nov. 20.

Following notice of the strike, the hospital said in a statement it is “very saddened that union members have chosen to strike at a time when we are in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic bearing down our on community.” Operators of the hospital say the facility will remain open in the members of the union follow through with the planned strike, however, non-emergent or elective services—such as the CRH ‘swab and send’ COVID-19 testing and pain clinic procedures—may need to be temporarily suspended.

Employees are demanding the firing of hospital CEO Rod Boula, whose “poor leadership” is the root of the hospital’s problems. Employees recently delivered a “Petition of No Confidence” against Boula, demanding his termination and listing employees’ concerns, including “the hospital’s irresponsible spending practices, dangerous working conditions, poor employee morale, and employees’ unpaid insurance bills (some of which have gone to debt collection).”

“We have concluded that one person is responsible for these problems in our hospital, our workplace and in our community,” the employees wrote in the petition. “As the CEO, Rod Boula is the one who has ultimately made the decisions that have put us in this current situation, despite him blaming many other people and circumstances for his own failure at his job.”

The union also says a recent coronavirus outbreak at the hospital raised concerns because the hospital didn’t strictly enforce universal masking, raising concerns over patients’ and employees’ health and safety.

“The hospital did not strictly enforce universal masking until we raised concerns about the outbreak,” Megan LaPlant, a CRH medical laboratory scientist, said in the release. “Despite our requests to make Covid screening more accessible to employees, management never fully informed staff of how they could get tested themselves. Some employees were even reprimanded by management for getting screened after they had been exposed to someone with the virus. While we are doing everything we can to keep our patients safe, it is the job of management to keep us and our coworkers safe. They have not done a good job of that.”

Read the Petition of No Confidence here:

The hospital says they don’t believe the strike will bring the parties closer to an agreement.

“We will not be deterred just because we do not agree wholeheartedly with the union position or demands,” the hospital said. “We continue to offer opportunities to negotiate in good faith with the Maine State Nurses Union. Only together can we strengthen the hospital’s financial position so we can continue to provide great care to this community. Everyone at Calais Regional Hospital is committed to providing high-quality, safe healthcare, from our medical professionals to our administrative staff to our volunteers. We ask that the Maine Nurses Association join us in putting our patients’ health and safety first.”

Employees have taken their concerns directly to the hospital’s board of directors, which has the power to fire Boula.

“The future of our hospital is in the hands of the board of directors,” Alison Monaghan, a registered nurse at CRH said. “They have a real opportunity, right now, to do the right thing and save our hospital. We’re glad that some of them are willing to listen to us. We will continue to reach out to them so they can understand exactly what is going on at Calais Regional Hospital.”

The union says the strike will begin at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18, and end at 6:59 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 20.

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