.Nurses At Watsonville Community Hospital Ratify Contract

Nurses say the contract will help improve patient safety and nurse retention

Nurses at Watsonville Community Hospital ratified a three-year contract after five months of negotiations. Nurses say the contract will help to improve patient safety and increase nurse retention.

The California Nurses Association, which represents 250 nurses at the hospital, made the announcement on Dec. 9. It was a positive bit of news in a story that began in 2021, when hospital officials said the hospital was facing bankruptcy and closure unless a buyer came forward.

The Pajaro Valley Health Care District Project subsequently purchased the hospital, which is now publicly owned and overseen by the five-member Health Care District.

“After a tumultuous few years, we’re thrilled to have a strong contract that reflects the priorities of nurses and the needs of our community,” said nurse Shanandrea Castro, who was part of the bargaining team. “We fought hard to win critical measures to retain experienced nurses and secured health and safety provisions to improve the hospital’s infectious disease prevention efforts.”

The board is expected to ratify the new contract at an upcoming meeting.

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“I’m delighted that it’s complete,” said Board President John Friel. “I’m delighted that we were able to do it without any work stoppages and any interference with patient care. Nurses are an integral part of our health care delivery team, and we need them desperately to make sure that we can continue on the path that we’re on to bring this hospital back to life and sustainability.”

Included in the contract are safeguards against mandatory overtime and protections against outsourcing nursing work. The contract also includes a guarantee that 20 percent of the nursing positions will be part-time, which were eliminated in July as a cost-saving measure. 

Nurses say part-time positions allow greater flexibility in their schedules.

The contract also guarantees nurses will be able to have input in the Infectious Disease Task Force, which will be utilized in the event of a novel virus, outbreak, epidemic or pandemic.

The new contract term will end December 2026 and full ratification by the Pajaro Valley Health Care District Board of Directors will be announced and scheduled for next week.


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