ELCH, nurses try again

EAST LIVERPOOL – Again, a tentative agreement has been reached between East Liverpool City Hospital and members of its nurses union, although a contract has not yet been ratified.

The East Liverpool Nurses Association (ELNA) and hospital officials met Wednesday and reached the tentative agreement, and the union is expected to vote on the proposal within the next few days.

“After months of difficult negotiations, our bargaining team feels we reached the best agreement possible at this time,” according to union President Mary Kay Hoppel.

No details of the agreement were released Wednesday. Nurses have been working under the terms of their old contract, which expired May 31.

A strike notice had been filed by the union but withdrawn, but not before hospital officials went into strike mode by curtailing some operations in preparation for the work stoppage.

While most of those services have been restored, the hospital did close down its maternity and obstetrics/gynecological units as of this week in a cost-cutting move not necessarily related to the union negotiations but which union officials estimated would result in the loss of about 30 nursing positions.

Hospital officials have attributed the inability to forge a partnership with Humility of Mary Health Partners on failed negotiations with the ELNA, saying that merger hinged on a contract proposal which nurses overwhelmingly opposed.