Monday’s protest. | File photo by Andrew Goff.

Less than two days after union workers and their supporters staged a protest over what they consider a dangerous staffing crisis at St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka, hospital management fired nearly three dozen employees — some union workers, others not.

The terminated employees, who were fired without warning, according to messages sent to the Outpost, included workers from senior leadership, support staff and patient care.

Below we present two dramatically different takes on the firings. Union steward Allen McCloskey says this was “retaliatory behavior” and another example of “corporate greed” from the hospital, which is part of the vast health care holdings operated by nonprofit mega-conglomerate Providence St. Joseph Health.

McCloskey’s take is followed by a statement from Roberta Luskin-Hawk, chief executive of St. Joseph Health Humboldt County, who couches the firings in the blandest of corporate jargon. There was “a transformation toward more integration and coordinated care,” which prompted “our decision to realign areas of our workforce and reduce positions where necessary,” Luskin-Hawk writes.

The 35 eliminated positions represent roughly two-and-a-half percent of the total St. Joseph workforce in Humboldt County, which includes employees at St. Joe’s and Redwood Memorial Hospital in Fortuna.

Luskin-Hawk’s statement:

Health care continues to undergo a transformation toward more integration and coordinated care. This transformation necessitates that hospitals and health care providers make changes to provide a more efficient and value-based care delivery system.

As a result, today we announced our decision to realign areas of our workforce and reduce positions where necessary. The positions being realigned or eliminated make up approximately 2.5% of our workforce and include a mix of senior leadership, support staff and patient care positions (including represented and non-represented staff). We are doing this now so we may respond proactively and affirmatively to the challenges all hospitals face today and will continue to face in the coming years. This will help ensure we remain a strong, viable health care organization for generations to come.  

Our realignment will allow us to maintain our clinical and operational focus while positioning our organization for an expansion of outpatient and specialty services that meet the needs of Humboldt County more fully. Throughout this process, sustaining our mission will remain at the heart of all we do. 

Our continued commitment to the health and well-being of our community remain driving factors in our proactive approach to building a more innovative and collaborative model of health care delivery.