Middlesboro Fire Chief and Ambulance Services Director, Tim Wilder indicates that they are conducting business as usual, by continuing to take emergency patients by ambulance to Middlesboro ARH for treatment.
Nearby Pineville Community Hospital (PCH) officials made contingency plans to treat a greater number of patients before the strike occurred. “We're not certain on how much we'll be impacted, but we are preparing for an increased amount of acute patients to our facility,” said Greg Nunnelley, Human Resource Director for PCH.
While many in the community are showing their support for the strikers by honking car horns as they drive by, at least one local doctor believes that the strike compromises the quality of care that he can provide to his patients within the ARH facility. While he is not employed by ARH, Dr. John Williamson is a doctor who delivers babies and has admitting privileges at Middlesboro ARH. Williamson sent a letter to his patients encouraging them to consider delivery at Lakeway Hospital in Morristown, Tenn., until the current strike is resolved.
Williamson feels that the strike is unethical.
“A dispute over wages/benefits resulting in a strike by healthcare workers that endangers patients is highly unethical,” Williamson stated. He went on to say that the strike by surgery technicians and other healthcare workers at ARH places his patients at unnecessary risk.
In his address to his patients, Williamson said, “Some members of the surgical on-call team are represented by the Steelworkers Union and are on strike. Arrangements for replacement personnel have been made but the level of experience and training of these individuals may not match the individuals who are on strike. Therefore, the most significant potential impact of this strike for our patients is the potential to affect our ability to perform an emergency cesarean delivery.”
Neither party makes indications of when the negotiations will be completed, nor are they discussing the specific issues of contract talks with the public. PCH's Nunnelley said that PCH has made, “long-term arrangements” in case the picket line on West Cumberland Avenue becomes more of a fixture than a surprising spectacle.
Brandy L. Murray is a Staff Writer for the Daily News. Her e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.