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Hands Off Our Midwives! - CWA Local 1168 Mounts Public Campaign To Save The Jobs Of Five Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital Midwives, Charges Kaleida Health With Transferring Union-Represented Positions To Non-Union Staff

Published Wednesday, May 19, 2021
by WNYLaborToday.com Editor-Publisher Tom Campbell
Hands Off Our Midwives! - CWA Local 1168 Mounts Public Campaign To Save The Jobs Of Five Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital Midwives, Charges Kaleida Health With Transferring Union-Represented Positions To Non-Union Staff

(AMHERST, NEW YORK) – Kim Kornowski and Catherine Stack just can’t figure it out

Why would Kaleida Health want to get rid of five Communications Workers of America (CWA)-represented Midwives, some with nearly 25 years of experience, and hand over the positions to Non-Union Staff untrained for the critical services of assisting mothers and their newborns?

On Tuesday (May 18th), CWA Local 1168 held a rally outside its Sweet Home Road Union Headquarters to call public attention to their campaign to save the Suburban Buffalo Hospital’s Midwives, who’ve been targeted for job elimination come June 1st.

“They ‘really haven’t given us a solid’ reason.  ‘It’s just a deletion of services of a different kind of care, people you can trust to help deliver a baby’ - and they are the only five Midwives in the ‘entire’ Kaleida system,” Kornowski, who serves as Area CWA Vice President for Registered Nurses at Millard Suburban Hospital in Williamsville, told WNYLaborToday.com. 

“We ‘just don’t understand where they are going to get (the Midwives’ replacements) from.’  The (Midwives) have been there for more than (23) years, ‘since the inception of the hospital.’  And, ‘they’re taking our Union jobs and giving them to Non-Union’ residents,” said Kornowski (Pictured Below/WNYLaborToday.com Photo).

The starting hourly rate paid to a Midwife is $50, with top scale at $64.

“(Kaleida) just ‘keeps on trimming and trimming’ (jobs),” Kornowski continued.  “But these (Midwives) ‘are there to help take care of newborns and train staff, direct the Nurses.’  ‘And, they have a certain level of compassion.’  ‘They are an integral part’ of the unit.  In fact, they are the Nurses’ ‘safety net.’  They are ‘essential’ Workers.  ‘We’re not going to give up.’”

Stack, who has 24 years of experience working as a Midwife, told Your On-Line Labor Newspaper that the news of her position being eliminated “hasn’t sunk in.”

“(Kaleida) is telling us they are moving to a ‘new’ model, a ‘physician’ model,” Stack (Pictured Above/WNYLaborToday.com Photo) said. “This (move) ‘is coming under a lot of scrutiny.’  The next two months ‘will be pivotal’ (to see what occurs).  ‘We’re wondering (if it will fail) and that there will be callbacks’ (of the Midwives whose position are being eliminated).”

CWA Local 1168 Officials are asking those in the community who are concerned about Kaleida Health’s decision to eliminate its veteran Midwives to call Millard Fillmore Suburban President Judy Baumgartner in order to register their complaints.

To prove there’s support for the Midwives at Millard Fillmore Suburban, CWA Local 1168 Representatives provided WNYLaborToday.com with a number of e-mails from several individuals who had sent their e-mailed response to the news.

While WNYLaborToday.com is withholding their names, here are several excerpts of what Your On-Line Labor Newspaper was privy to reading:

“By eliminating Midwives from the MFSH Staff, you are limiting the experiences to your patients.  This will undoubtedly take away patients from your hospital.  I personally chose MFSH Because of the Midwives that were available.  Kaleida Health is not thinking of their patients when they make decisions like removing Midwives from their team.”

“The role in the team that makes up the Labor and Delivery Wing at Millard Fillmore Suburban is remarkable.  At times, changes are made to make things more efficient.  However, I believe this decision for change is a large mistake and will be regretted.  They have done so much for me alone and I know their work has touched so many other Mothers who delivered at Suburban, more than any of us realize.”

“The purposed of this communication is to express my disappointment and concern of a recent decision made a Kaleida Health’s Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital’s Women’s Services Unit.  As a father of three, I have participated in each birth at Kaleida facility over the past six years.  Each experience was exemplary due the sufficient levels of staffing, the support and training of the entire team, and leadership of the Midwives during the birthing process.  I feel this decision is putting those initiatives ahead of the lives of mothers and unborn children.  Rapidly removing pillars of strength within any successful team is unwise, when that decision puts the lives of babies at risk, it is reckless.  I am asking you to please reconsider this decision.”

“Without the presence of Midwifery in the hospital, it leaves me wondering how the hospital prioritizes the rest of the Labor and Delivery Department and its patients.  It raises lots of questions and worry for me.  It also leaves me feeling very sad knowing there won’t be skilled Midwives on staff helping to reduce complications and maternal mortality.  Please reconsider the decision to remove Midwifery from MFSH (Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital).  The mothers in the Buffalo area deserve the best from your hospital.”

Should Kaleida not reverse its decision, CWA Local 1168 Officials tell Your On-Line Labor Newspaper that only two hospitals in all of the Buffalo area will be offering Midwives: South Buffalo Mercy Hospital and Sisters Hospital. 

“This is ‘not just about five’ jobs,” Kornowski said.  “It’s ‘about eliminating a vital service for the women in the community that truly value the care.’”

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