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Petition seeks to save 250 health care jobs

STATE COLLEGE — Workers at Mount Nittany Medical Center have delivered a petition to hospital CEO Kathleen Rhine calling on the hospital’s board of directors, executives and administrators to halt plans to cut 250 health care jobs from the hospital.

The hospital announced the job cuts in June.

“A month ago, we were heroes,” Denelle Weller, a registered nurse at Mount Nittany Medical Center for 16 years, said in a statement. “Now they want to show us the door rather than even make an effort to work with us to find a better solution to the problem.”

Hospital officials had a different take on the situation.

“While the petition stated that hospital administration has refused to share information or discuss al­ter­na­tives, we have met with the union leadership since the announcement and have not been presented with any alternatives,” said Mount Nittany Health spokeswoman Nichole Monica. “In addition to these meetings with hospital executives, our leadership has met with hundreds of staff members since our announcement and have incorporated their suggestions into our plans.”

“As the union leadership knows, the process for identifying and notifying affected individuals is laid out in the union contract, and we are following those terms,” Monica said.

Front-line caregivers at the hospital are concerned about the effects such cuts would have on the levels and quality of care and services, a union statement said.

Since the announcement was made, caregivers at the hospital have been attempting to work with administrators to better understand the issues facing the facility and find solutions that would save jobs. Hospital administrators, however, have refused to share information or discuss alternatives, the union said.

“Our hospital is one of the most successful hospitals in the state and that’s largely due to our hard work and dedication to our patients and our community,” Kelsye Stott, a respiratory therapist at MNMC, said in a statement. “It’s heartbreaking that the board and the executives don’t see that. Drastic cuts like this are only going to hurt the people who need us most.”

Monica said the hospital is not cutting programs or services for patients.

“We are not changing nurse-to-patient ratios and every full-time or regular part-time RN will have a position available for them. Our commitment to providing the community with high-quality care will always be our focus. As we have already announced, we continue to respond to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic through an overall plan that includes restructuring and reducing management positions, reduction in executive compensation, deferral of capital projects and reductions in outside contracts and supply expenses,” Monica said.

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