NOTE: The follow articles originally ran in the Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 25-26, 1973, editions of the Albany Democrat-Herald.

Nurses at Albany General Hospital resigned en masse this morning after inconclusive mediation sessions Monday between the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) and the hospital's board of commissioners.

The last shift of nurses left the hospital this morning at 7.

Another meeting was called for tonight in an attempt to settle the dispute.

Meanwhile, the hospital officials said the institution will remain open and will be able to provide care for its 52 patients.

Marjorie Sexton, Albany General administrator, said "eight to 10 nurses" were on the job this morning.

They were among 15 part-time nurses who were unaffected by the resignation and who were called into full-time service or from 15 nurses recruited from other sources in the mid-valley.

Other hospital employees — nurses aides, licensed practical nurses, orderlies, electric help, technicians and dietary and housekeeping help — still are on the job.

On Sept. 11, following a breakdown in contract negotiations, 67 of the hospital's 82 registered nurses submitted resignations to take effect today. Two nurses withdrew their resignations Monday.

Mrs. Sexton said the hospital is prepared to operate indefinitely in the face of the resignations.

The nurses' action will cause the hospital's maternity unit to close by this afternoon, however, she said.

Maternity cases will be handled at both Lebanon Community Hospital and Good Samaritan Hospital in Corvallis.

James Mol, Good Samaritan Hospital administrator, said only nine of that institution's 32 maternity beds were occupied this morning.

Good Samaritan Hospital received four patients transferred from Albany General on Monday. Two other patients were transferred to an Albany nursing home.

Mrs. Sexton said she does not know whether the transfers are directly related to the resignations.

Gene Kanagy, administrator of Lebanon Community Hospital (52 patients for 106 beds) will increase the hospital's operating costs. But she did not know by how much.

She said the emergency room will operate as usual. But patients who doubt that their case is a true emergency are urged to telephone the hospital.

Other areas of the hospital — the business office and medical records department, for instance — remains unaffected.

"But we'll have to make some adjustments if this continues much longer," she said.

Hospital directors and nurses will meet tonight at 6 with Kenneth Brown, conciliator with the Oregon Labor Management Board.

Directors are expected to reply to a salary proposal put forth late Monday afternoon by William Lang, executive director of ONA.

Lang made the proposal after the directors had disbanded for the day. The Rev. Morton Booth, president of the hospital board, called a meeting for later in the evening, but only five of the hospital's director appeared. Booth said seven were needed to establish a quorum.

Directors have said they would not negotiate directly with the nurses until they withdrew their resignations.

James Ruyle, Portland attorney representing the hospital in negotiations, said the hospital views the mass resignation as equal to a strike — an illegal action for hospital employees.

Lang, on the other hand, said it is within the nurses' rights to resign.

The nurses have been pressing for a settlement equal to one negotiated at Good Samaritan Hospital in Corvallis earlier this year. Under that contract, beginning nurses would receive $700 per month [about $3,900 per month in 2018].

Directors at Albany General Hospital have offered $760 [$4,200 in 2018] retroactive to July 1, with increasing increments after Jan. 1 for nurses with two to four years' experience.

Nurses return at AGH

Nurses at Albany General Hospital returned to work today following the settlement of a dispute over a two-year contract.

Nurses at the hospital submitted resignations Sept. 11 to take effect Tuesday morning unless progress was made in salary negotiations.

Contract talks remained stalled Monday night, so 65 of the hospital's remaining 82 registered nurses resigned en masse.

Hospital directors and and nursing representatives reached a settlement Tuesday night at 10:30, after more than four hours of mediation.

Under terms of the contract, a beginning nurse will receive $760 per month until Jan. 1, 1974, retroactive to July 1. Beginning nurses currently receive $725 per month [about $4,000 in 2018].

From Jan. 1 to July 1, 1974, beginning nurses will receive $765 per month. Top salary will be $820 [about $4,600 in 2018] for a nurse with four years of service after Jan. 1.

Hospital officials said the increase will represent a 4.8 percent raise at the bottom of the pay scale.

The final settlement is slightly less than the original demand of $770 [$4,300] per month for a beginning nurse — a figure negotiated by nurses at Good Samaritan Hospital in Corvallis.

The new Albany General Hospital salary scale will be negotiated after July 1, 1974.

William Lang, executive director for the Oregon Nurses Association, said the nurses were willing to take the lower figure in return for two seats as ex officio members of the hospital board.

Lang predicted that as nonvoting board members, nurses would increase communication with the board, forestalling serious disputes in the future.

In addition to salary increases, nurses will receive four weeks of vacation per year after 10 years of service. Currently they receive four weeks of vacation after 15 years.

The Rev. Morton Booth, president of the hospital board, said the settlement would have a "serious effect" on the institution's already bleak financial picture.

The hospital has been operating at a loss since April.

James Ruyle, Portland attorney negotiating for the hospital, said the settlement would cost $6,000 [about $33,500] in retroactive pay. It will increases the nurses' $60,000 [about $334,700] monthly payroll by $2,000 until January. After January the settlement will add another $600 [about $3,350] to the monthly increase.

Robert Hubbard, hospital comptroller, predicted that the institution's September financial statement will reflect losses resulting from the mass resignation.

The hospital reduced its average patient load during the past four days from around 85 to about 55.

Hubbard said each patient accounts for about $140 [$780] per day in hospital charges. A reduction of 30 patients would take away about $4,200 in hospital revenue.

Marjorie Sexton, hospital administrator, said it would take several days to build up the patient load in the 106-bed institution.

Mrs. Sexton said all but two of the nurses have withdrawn their resignations. She said the two resigned for unspecified reasons.

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.