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PeaceHealth Urgent Care providers unionize to address understaffing

PHPU photo 1.jpg
Oregon Nurses Association
Employees of PeaceHealth Urgent Care have filed with the National Labor Relations Board to unionize. L to R: Linda McIntyre, Wendy Lang, Erin Reilly, Morgan Garvin, MD (on phone screen) Vivek Pantangi and Hong Le

Health care providers, including doctors, nurses and physician assistants, from four Eugene-area clinics plan to file for union recognition. The new group, PeaceHealth Providers United, plans to address understaffing and burnout.

Dr. Morgan Garvin works for PeaceHealth Urgent Care. She said in the last year and a half, they’ve lost a third of their provider force.

Morgan Garvin MD.jpg
Morgan Garvin, MD
Dr. Morgan Garvin works for PeaceHealth Urgent Care. She's one of the 15 care givers organizing as PeaceHealth Providers United.

At the beginning of the pandemic, there were three urgent care clinics open in Eugene and Springfield- with six providers each. One of those clinics is now closed and the remaining, she said, are woefully understaffed. “And that has resulted in unconscionable wait times for patients,” Garvin said. “I’ve seen people who have had to wait six hours to see me. Which is longer than I’ve seen people wait when I was in residency working in an inner-city ER.”

Garvin told KLCC urgent care clinics are crucial to the community. In addition to setting broken bones and suturing lacerations, she said providers have been on the front line treating COVID-19 patients.

Garvin insisted providers have been sounding the alarm, but PeaceHealth management has only asked remaining staff “to work harder and longer.” The massive hospital system has declined to voluntarily recognize PeaceHealth Providers United. The next step is a union recognition election.

“I want to bring us back to uphold what PeaceHealth’s stated mission and values are. You know, respect, integrity, stewardship, compassion. Those things, I think, are missing from management,” Dr. Garvin said.

PHPU will partner with the Pacific Northwest Hospital Medicine Association (PNWHMA), an existing hospitalists union, which is represented by the American Federation of Teachers (Local 6552) and serviced by the Oregon Nurses Association.

The following is a statement from PeaceHealth officials:

PeaceHealth values the opportunity to have a direct relationship with caregivers and providers, and believes that relationship is both consistent with our values and best for the patients we serve.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented extraordinary challenges for everyone serving in healthcare. Despite this fact, by working directly with our caregivers and providers PeaceHealth has been able to maintain or improve performance on safety and quality across our medical centers.  

We respect the rights and opinions of all our providers and caregivers and affirm that they have the choice either to join a union or preserve a direct relationship with PeaceHealth. PeaceHealth will always work with the requisite organizations to ensure these rights are preserved.  

We look forward to further engaging with our valued providers on this important topic and reinforcing our commitment to them, and to the patients we serve. 

Tiffany joined the KLCC News team in 2007. She studied journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has worked in a variety of media including television and daily print news. For KLCC, Tiffany reports on health care, social justice and local/regional news. She has won awards from Oregon Associated Press, PRNDI, and Education Writers Association.