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Mercy Health frontline workers voice concerns amid merger

Posted at 9:39 PM, Sep 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-09 22:19:57-04

MUSKEGON, Mich. — Frontline workers at Mercy Health in Muskegon are voicing concerns over their working conditions.

Member leaders of SEIU Healthcare Michigan are sending management a letter later this week.

The letter outlines a number of concerns workers have that they believe could worsen as Mercy Health merges their Hackley and Mercy campuses.

“I've worked a long time. I really care about my patients, I really do,” Lab Assistant Darla Gallegos told FOX 17.

Gallegos has worked at Mercy Health’s Hackley campus for more than three decades.

“Years ago, I really enjoyed coming to work, I felt cared about, I felt like my job mattered, like my company wanted me to do a good job. Now I'm feeling like I'm just a means to their end,” Gallegos said.

Darla is one of dozens of employees who signed on to the union’s open letter to Mercy Health management.

In it, frontline workers take issue with how the hospital is handling COVID-19 positive patients, claim there’s still a shortage of critical personal protective equipment, and among other things say that severe under-staffing and increased work hours are taking a toll on employees.

“We care about the patients, we care about the community, we care about our families and our safety and working short-staffed and 16 hours straight is just not safe. It's not safe,” Gallegos added.

Concerns they say are only growing as the merging of both Mercy Health campuses is imminent.

We’ve reached out to Mercy Health for comment, who had this to say:

“At Mercy Health we have always put the safety of our patients and colleagues first. This includes identifying COVID-Free Zones in all our facilities and providing care only for people not known to have COVID-19 or COVID-19 symptoms in these spaces. We've increased the frequency and intensity of our facility cleaning, being sure to follow the CDC's latest COVID-19 guidelines.

We have always worked closely with the unions that represent our nursing staff and service colleagues and will continue to do so, including during and after we consolidate services to the Mercy Campus in mid-October.

And while developing a dedicated COVID-19 unit has contributed to stress on our staffing resources, we continue to recruit and staff our departments according to patient needs and continue to have ample supply of appropriate PPE.

For further information on our safety measures: Mercy Health's Safety Commitment []