Judge lifts order preventing Wisconsin hospital workers from starting new jobs

A Wisconsin judge on Monday lifted a temporary ban on seven employees of ThedaCare, a major regional hospital system, from leaving for new jobs with a different health care network until they can be found. be replaced by them.

The repeal of the temporary order cleared the way for workers to start their new jobs with Ascension Northwest Wisconsin. Last week, ThedaCare sued Ascension, seeking to temporarily keep workers out of work and settle an unusual labor dispute stemming from a dual crisis that is rocking the healthcare industry: a shortage of workers, many some of them are demanding higher wages and the coronavirus pandemic rages. .

Ascension Northwest Wisconsin said in a statement ahead of Monday’s hearing that ThedaCare “had the opportunity but declined to make competing counter offers to retain its former employees.”

Follow Ascensionis part of one of the largest Catholic health care systems in the United States.

ThedaCare, that operates seven hospitals and provides care to more than 600,000 people annually, the lawsuit says it is seeking to “protect the community” by temporarily retaining employees who accepted new jobs with Ascension on December and is expected to begin on Monday.

It added that staff, who together make up the bulk of a team of 11, provide “critical care to critically ill patients” and that Ascension “should have known that this move will degrade ThedaCare’s ability to provide critical care” to trauma and stroke victims in the Fox River Valley, which spans three counties from Green Bay to Oshkosh.

Lynn Detterman, senior vice president of ThedaCare South Region, said in a statement Monday, “We know this situation has put the team members who decided to leave ThedaCare in a difficult position.”

“Our goal has always been to create an orderly transition in the short term, without forcing team members to continue working at ThedaCare,” she said.

David Muth, Ascension’s attorney, said in a petition filed Monday that ThedaCare was blaming others for its own mistakes and that it had attempted to turn “mismanagement” into “a personal emergency that messes with everyone – anyone – but themselves . ”

Last week, Judge Mark McGinnis of Outagamie County Court granted ThedaCare’s request for a temporary injunction preventing employees from starting work at Ascension this week as scheduled, and told the attorneys for both the two sides on Friday to seek an agreement, The Post-Crescent of Appleton, Wis., Report.

The lawsuit was filed because of the nationwide hospital system, including in Wisconsin, fight to keep workers during the pandemic.

However, Joe Veenstra, a labor and employment attorney in La Crosse, Wis., said the lawsuit is an unusual and far-reaching attempt by ThedaCare to interfere with the free market and keep employees without pay them higher wages.

“We have certainly entered an alternate universe,” said Mr Veenstra, adding: “We now have management boards that are incapable of controlling labor and ask the courts to stop the free market. due to happen. It’s just, we’re living in an upside down world right now.”

It’s not clear how long ThedaCare wants to keep the seven employees. The hospital system said in the lawsuit that it wants Ascension to loan ThedaCare one radiologist and one nurse per day until it hires enough staff or suspend hiring until a replacement is found. position.

Mr Veenstra said it was very, very unusual for ThedaCare to “restrict their employment in this way”.

ThedaCare said in the lawsuit that to maintain Level II trauma center status at ThedaCare-Neenah Regional Medical Center — the second-highest category a hospital can achieve — the hospital must be able to perform perform interventional radiology procedures 24 hours a day. That said, it can’t be maintained if the employee quits.

If a hospital is unable to provide round-the-clock interventional radiology care, such as restoring blood flow to a patient’s brain after a stroke, then the hospital “risks withdrawing the center’s verification.” level II trauma center” and was forced to transport the patient elsewhere, the lawsuit states.

Timothy Breister, one of the employees mentioned in the lawsuit, said in a letter to Judge McGinnis that Ascension “in no way employed any of the seven of us,” as ThedaCare established. essay.

Instead, Mr. Breister said, one member of the team “received an outstanding offer not only for salary but for a better work/life balance,” inspiring others. apply for.

After they received an offer from Ascension, seven employees asked ThedaCare management to match Ascension’s offer, Mr. Breister said. He said they have been told that “by matching offers, the long-term costs of ThedaCare are not worth the short-term costs and no counteroffer will be made.”

He added that patient care will not be affected because the services staff perform at ThedaCare will now be performed at Ascension. He and other employees could not be immediately reached on Monday.

ThedaCare’s Detterman said in an affidavit that if staff members leave, the hospital will need to move patients to facilities as far away as Milwaukee or Madison, both of which are about 100 miles away.

“Unfortunately, it is foreseeable that some patients may die because ThedaCare cannot treat them promptly without interventional radiology and cardiovascular services,” she said.

She added that patient diversion has become more difficult during the pandemic, which has strained hospitals as the number of cases has increased.

Healthcare workers in Wisconsin, where 63% of people are eligible to be fully immunized against Covid-19, are dealing with a surge in cases. On Sunday, the daily average for new cases in the state was more than 21,000, according to one New York Times Database.

Ascension’s attorney, Mr. Muth, said in his application that the company had posted in part to address “a similar shortage of staff that affected the entire healthcare industry during this era.” Translate”. Judge lifts order preventing Wisconsin hospital workers from starting new jobs

Fry Electronics Team

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