Catholic Healthcare West, San Francisco, reached a three-year labor agreement with the California Nurses Association covering 4,000 registered nurses at 11 CHW hospitals. The proposal would raise wages 18% to 29% over the three years, ban mandatory overtime, improve pension and other benefits, and require third-party arbitration of staffing disputes. If approved by the nurses in a vote scheduled for next week, the agreement would add the nurses to a statewide master contract struck by CHW and the CNA in July 2003. The master contract already covers 4,000 nurses at 10 other CHW hospitals. The CNA has other master contracts with Kaiser Permanente, Tenet Healthcare Corp. and the University of California. Last month CHW signed a four-year master contract with the Service Employees International Union covering 14,000 workers at 28 of the system's 34 California hospitals.
Meanwhile, CHW agreed to sell 77-bed St. Dominic's Hospital, Manteca, Calif., and its two adjacent medical office buildings to Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, Calif., for "fair market value." Further terms weren't disclosed. St. Dominic's had a $4.5 million operating loss on $29.7 million in revenue last year, according to state data. Kaiser, which has plans to build a $500 million, 225-bed hospital in neighboring Modesto by 2007, said it will expand the number of beds at St. Dominic's to 99 and keep the hospital's emergency room open to all. The deal is scheduled to close at the end of October, pending approvals from the state and the Roman Catholic Church. The hospital would be Kaiser's 31st and its first hospital acquisition since 1976. -- by Laura B. Benko