Hospice and home health nurses at PeaceHealth’s Sacred Heart Home Care Services have announced an impending strike following failed attempts to reach wage agreements in negotiations with the organization.
Home care and hospice nurses at PeaceHealth have given notice that the strike will launch on Feb. 1 and end on Feb. 14. Roughly 90 of its home health and hospice registered nurses represented by the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) recently voted in favor of strike, previously postponing the decision as ongoing wage negotiations took place.
“We respect our caregivers’ rights to engage in lawful union negotiation activities,” PeaceHealth representatives told Becker’s Hospital Review. “However, we are deeply disappointed that the union has chosen to strike, as we have offered highly competitive proposals that would provide wage improvements either at or beyond market rate. PeaceHealth has successfully negotiated four other long-term union contracts over the last 12 months, providing wage increases and stability for nearly 3,000 caregivers in Lane County. We value our caregivers, their professionalism and commitment to our patients — and a planned strike does not change that.”
PeaceHealth operates two hospice locations in Oregon, along with six others in Alaska and Washington state. The nonprofit health care system offers hospice, palliative, pediatric, primary and immediate and urgent care, along with behavioral health and home-based services, among others. PeaceHealth operates medical centers, critical access hospitals and hospice facilities.
The 90 nurses involved in the strike care for more than 500 patients. PeaceHealth has contracted a local agency to provide temporary caregiver support to patients during the two-week strike.
Wage negotiations in Oregon have been in the works for nearly a year since nursing contracts expired in April 2023, roughly 40 bargaining sessions in total. The strike announcement came shortly after the latest round of negotiations.
An estimated 25% of home care and hospice nurses have left PeaceHealth throughout the course of the negotiations, according to the ONA. The association indicated that an additional one-third of this workforce is anticipated to leave the health system in the next year under current nursing contract wage structures.
Priorities among the hospice and home nurses include raising safety standards, ensuring affordable and accessible home health care delivery, equitable pay protection and addressing clinical staffing crises by increasing recruitment and retention of skilled caregivers.
“We are not asking for more or special treatment, just what we have always had and the standard that all other PeaceHealth hospitals have had in Washington and Oregon,” Heather Herbert, an ONA member and hospice nurse at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services told local news.