September 01, 2017 07:06 PM
(ABC 6 News) -- Mayo Clinic Health System and the local chapter of the Minnesota Nurses Association have reached an agreement on how to handle seniority for nurses forced to change units due to a consolidation of inpatient services between the health system's Albert Lea and Austin hospitals, the union said Thursday night.
MNA said a majority of nurses at both hospitals ratified the agreement as part of the contract renegotiations held every three years.
The process, which began before Mayo's announcement in June, changed as a result of the consolidation.
"It made it very difficult to negotiate a contract into the long term, three years, when we didn't even know for sure what was coming in the next six months," MNA Albert Lea Co-Chair Kathy Lehman said.
Lehman went on to call the end result a "huge victory" for the approximately 125 nurses split between Albert Lea and Austin.
Under the new agreement, nurses are able to transfer their seniority from one hospital to the other if they take a job in another unit, she said. That seniority can't be used to get a job.
"It was essential for our nurses to be able to have a way to take their seniority with them if they made the decision to move to an opposite campus," Lehman said.
Mayo weighed in Friday morning, saying their goal has always been to make the transition as smooth as possible.
"We will continue to move forward with staffing plans for the future state on both campuses with the best interest of our employees and patients in mind," a statement from the health system said. "Our focus is on preserving the health care services that our patients use most often in their local communities, while making the best use of our resources to deliver hospital services in a way that keeps care viable and as close to home as possible."
The agreement was reached hours after Lt. Gov. Tina Smith visited Albert Lea officials and Mayo leaders to learn more about the consolidation and share her "serious concerns" about the move.
Smith had asked for a pause to the consolidation, which Mayo rejected Friday.
Updated: September 01, 2017 07:06 PM
Created: September 01, 2017 05:19 PM
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