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SEIU & The Greater Hudson Valley Health System Reach Deal On COVID-19 Hazard Pay

Published Monday, May 18, 2020
by Heather Yakin/Times Herald-Record
SEIU & The Greater Hudson Valley Health System Reach Deal On COVID-19 Hazard Pay

(TOWN OF WALLKILL, NEW YORK) – The Greater Hudson Valley Health System (GHVHS) and the Union representing its Employees at the Orange Regional Medical Center, the Catskill Regional Medical Center, the Greater Hudson Valley Family Health and associated medical groups have reached an agreement on Hazard Pay for Staff for their work during the local peak of COVID-19.

1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, announced the deal and provided the agreement letter GHVHS sent to the Union.  Under the deal, Full-Time Employees deemed high-risk will receive a “one-time, discretionary bonus” of $5,000, those at medium risk will get $3,500 and those at low risk will get $2,500, according to the agreement letter.

The agreement provides pro-rated payments for Part-Time and Per Diem Employees.

GHVHS CEO Scott Batulis confirmed that the Board of Directors approved the recognition bonus pay for Active Employees who worked the equivalent of at least one day per week during the pandemic: “This bonus ‘is to show heartfelt appreciation for everything’ our Employees have done during this crisis ‘and was determined by the level of risk they assumed for our patients and whether they are Full-, Part-Time or Per Diem Employees.’  The ‘tremendous work that has been done throughout our entire organization has made such a difference and saved many lives during this extremely difficult time.’”

In a letter, GHVHS wrote that the pay was to recognize Staff “for the amazing work they have done during the past several weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“The Union has made it clear throughout the past several weeks its position on the urgency of some form of payment to the Staff to acknowledge the difficulty of the task we have all confronted during this unprecedented time,” the letter said. “However, we are fully aware of the commitments and sacrifices our Staff made during this time and feel that we are rewarding their efforts accordingly and have difficulty imagining any different structure or amount to these payments which actually exceed some of your prior requests.”

“I ‘am ecstatic.’  ‘I think it’s important, because we are (putting) our lives at risk and our families,’” said Rachel Dunham, a UNIT CLERK on ORMC’s 3 South, which was converted to a COVID ICU.

Dunham is recuperating from COVID-19 contracted at work.  She said she fell ill on April 13th and brought the infection home, passing it to her 83-year-old mother, who died May 4th from the virus.  Dunham and her mother were hospitalized at the same time, on different floors.

“This is ‘what we do, because we chose to be in health care,’” Dunham said. “But you know, ‘it’s hard.’”

Dunham and Registered Nurse Edna Stachurski said the Employees campaigned for the Hazardous Duty Pay, putting signs on their cars and writing e-mails to hospital and health system administrators.

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