PeaceHealth Hospital Physicians Protest Plan To Outsource Their Work

Jun 28, 2018

Health care professionals representing all major labor unions at PeaceHealth RiverBend and University District hospitals rallied Thursday to stop a plan to outsource physician services, increase shift hours, and lay off staff. KLCC’s Tiffany Eckert asked one of the hospital physicians to explain the current dispute.

Dr. David Swartz is a hospitalist physician at RiverBend in Springfield. A hospitalist is a doctor that only takes care of patients who are admitted in hospital.

“We are there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Fully staffed, he says.”

Schwartz says he and the other hospitalists are angry about  PeaceHealth’s attempt to outsource them to a private management company. He says that will lead to more expensive, less effective health care.

“These companies are terrible care. They’re gonna come in and we’re gonna work in less hospitalists, we’re going to be seeing more patients, says Schwartz. “It’s all gonna be about generating revenue.  We’re doctors, this isn’t the kind of care we want to provide for our patients. We live here. This is our community.” 

Dr. David Schwartz speaks at a rally in front of PeaceHealth RiverBend hospital. He is president of the hospitalist union.
Credit Tiffany Eckert

Schwartz is now the president of the Pacific North West Hospital Medicine Association.

“It is the only specialist specific union in the country and the only hospitalist union in the country.”

The union was formed when PeaceHealth administrators tried to outsource their jobs back in 2014. After organized hospitalists fought back, the hospital reconsidered.

In the four years Dr. Schwartz has worked at RiverBend, there have been three different CEO’s. Currently, Joe Mark is serving as interim CEO until another takes over in August. Schwartz says the outsourcing plan was endorsed by executives who don’t know the hospital or the community.

Dr. David Schwartz lives in south Eugene with his wife and dog, Potter.
Credit Tiffany Eckert

“So here we are in 2018 and what are they doing? They want to outsource hospitalists, they want to cut nursing positions, they want to cut CNA positions, says Schwartz. “The frustrating part about this is, everybody who works there knows it’s not going to work. You know who doesn’t know this? The CEO who wasn’t’ here 4 years ago.”

Hospitalists in the PNWHMA have been working without a union contract since October 2017. In negotiations earlier this week, the sticking point remained outsourcing.

KLCC will reach out to PeaceHealth administration for their side of the story before union negotiations resume next month.