Registered nurses with National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU) applauded the decision by D.C. elected officials to file a lawsuit against Ascension, the owner and operator of Providence Hospital, charging that the multibillion-dollar St. Louis, Mo. based Catholic nonprofit violated the law when it began shutting down operations at the hospital on Friday, December 14. “This move by Ascension follows a long pattern of ignoring the needs and well-being of the people of Washington, D.C. and instead following a road map laid out by executives elsewhere in the country, who don’t care what happens to the elderly, the poor and the vulnerable who receive care at our D.C. hospital,” said Elissa Curry, a registered nurse at Providence. The lawsuit filed last Friday by the District of Columbia charges that Ascension violated D.C. law by closing and reducing hospital services without first obtaining approval of a hospital closure plan from the State Health Planning and Development Agency (SHPDA.) Just days before the D.C. lawsuit was filed, nurses filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) accusing Ascension of bargaining in bad faith when it concealed its intention to close the hospital during negotiations in 2017. The nurses also charge that Ascension’s refusal to negotiate severance packages for the nurses who are losing their jobs at Providence Hospital is a retaliatory act against the nurses for their efforts to keep the hospital open.
photo: December 11 protest at Providence; photo by Chris Garlock