July 17, 2024

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Registered Nurses Express Outrage Over Rushed Closing of Labor and Delivery Unit at St. Vincent’s Hospital

Originally slated for March 1, the department’s earlier planned closing leaves the community vulnerable and underserved

Little Rock, Ark. (Jan. 15, 2019) – OPEIU Local 22 registered nurses employed at CHI St. Vincent are expressing outrage over the announcement that the labor and delivery and NCIU – originally slated for closing on March 1 – will now close by early February.


“The hard-working nurses who staff the L&D unit are still reeling from the announcement that the 130-year-old unit would be closing on March 1 – the reason for which we still haven’t been told – and now we find out the unit will close even sooner,” said Paige Yates, RN, president of Local 22. “This rush to close leaves our community and the families who depend on the labor and delivery unit, including the many inductions and caesarean births already scheduled for the coming months, in an extremely vulnerable position.”


The nurses have collected hundreds of signatures from the Little Rock community on a petition demanding transparency regarding hospital management’s decision to close the unit. Unlike previous changes made to the hospital’s structure, administrators made no effort to consult with the Little Rock community, whose services will be disrupted, nor the 65 nurses whose jobs will be uprooted by this short-sighted decision.


“In the past, management was up front about massive changes like this,” said Paige Yates, RN, president of Local 22. “This time, they are keeping us in the dark and giving conflicting answers on their reasons for the closure, depending on who is asking.


“The community, including all the families who depend upon St. Vincent – many of them underinsured and reliant on Medicaid – deserve to know why the hospital is making the decision to close the labor and delivery unit at this time,” Yates continued.  


Since 1888, St. Vincent has provided quality care to expectant and new mothers in the Little Rock area. Management’s unilateral decision to cease operations in this area of care, after 130 years and thousands of successful childbirths, will have a direct and sustained impact on the well-being of the Little Rock community that needs and deserves the high-quality, specialized care provided by the doctors and nurses at St. Vincent.


Management has offered a range of conflicting reasons for the closing, but has not provided the Little Rock community a definitive answer as to why it is shuttering the unit – and why it has moved up the closing date. “We believe the ceasing of labor, delivery and neonatal intensive care services at St. Vincent – assuming any of the given reasons for the closure are accurate – is inconsistent with the deeply-held values administrators promulgate: reverence, integrity, compassion and excellence,” Yates said.


“The closure is also inconsistent with the values supposedly championed by a Catholic hospital, and runs contrary to its stated mission to care for the well-being of the community, especially those who are poor and vulnerable,” she added. “The community and the hospital’s employees deserve to know why management has decided to close the department, and why it is now closing so quickly.”

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