UH said exclusion was “conscious decision”
Geneva, Ohio – UH Geneva Medical Center administration reneged on a promise made in December 2021 to pay a COVID appreciation bonus in April to the hard-working nurses who tirelessly cared for patients through its darkest days of COVID. In the December message to staff, administrators committed to giving nurses and other employees a COVID appreciation bonus from additional federal funding specifically for COVID.
However, a recent email UH administration stated union nurses are excluded from this COVID appreciation bonus, while other employees notified in December, some of whom had little to no contact with COVID patients, will still receive the bonus later this month.
Employees are questioning the hospital’s recent decision to carve out nurses, especially because nurses have been on the frontline caring for patients and putting their own health in jeopardy since the pandemic began. At the height of the pandemic, nurses were one of the only workers in the hospital to have regular patient contact and, in some situations, the only ones with patients as they drew their last breath.
“These last two years have been extremely difficult for all of us who directly cared for patients with COVID. It was heartbreaking to watch them fight so hard day- in- and-day-out, but we did it because we cared about our patients and we wanted the best for them,” said Shannon Sayles, RN, Med Surg. “When the hospital went back on their commitment to pay nurses a COVID appreciation bonus, it was offensive. It made me sad that they disrespected the work we had done the last two years.”
“I am proud of our nurses for taking care of our community during the pandemic. I only wish the hospital felt the same way and took care of their nurses. It’s a little hard to understand how nurses who held the hands of dying patients wouldn’t qualify for this COVID appreciation bonus,” said Jennifer Johnson, RN, ICU.”
When union nurses asked for an explanation, the UH Regional HR Director and UH Geneva Chief Nursing Officer, stated that, although the email stated that the appreciation bonus would be awarded to “all regular status employees, including our residents in training, other than managers and above and physicians,” nurses should have assumed that they were not eligible. Further, they stated that it was UH’s discretion and conscious decision to exclude the nurses.
The nurses filed a grievance for discrimination last week, as well as an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board.
About ONA: Formed in 1904, the Ohio Nurses Association is a powerful network of registered nurses who are committed to advancing nursing through education, political action and workplace advocacy. ONA is the leading voice of the approximately 190,000 professional registered nurses in Ohio. To become a member of the Ohio Nurses Association, visit www.ohnurses.org.
Molly Homan, Communications Director
Ohio Nurses Association
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