Congratulations to the Bargaining Team and all Health District members.
The contract now goes before Board of Health Aug. 28 for final approval.
Please CLICK HERE for a flier about this vote.
About 25 members and staff of SEIU Nevada helped sway the Southern Nevada Board of Health Monday night to do the right thing and preserve a 30-year-old program that serves 200-to-225 of the region’s most at-risk mothers-to-be, new moms and their infants.
Voting 9-3 – with Chairman Rod Woodbury, Vice Chair Bob Beers and member Tim Jones dissenting – the board disregarded a staff recommendation and voted to preserve its Maternal Child Health Program, which serves at-need women during their pregnancies and after the births of their children. The program will be saved from the budgetary chopping block via $600,000 to be allocated from more than $2 million in additional money the district will receive from Clark County toward its fiscal year 2015 operations, which begin July 1.
Nearly an hour-and-a-half of sometimes emotional debate preceded the vote, with SEIU Nevada members affiliated with the program telling the packed room about the program’s extraordinary work. “We go out there and do miracles with these babies every single day,” said Victoria Harding, Vice President of SEIU 1107’s Non-Supervisory employees at the Health District.
Losing jobs was never an issue, Chief Health Officer Joseph P. Iser told the board, because the district intended to reassign the five nurse case managers in the program to other programs. Instead, Iser argued that the district should place emphasis on programs with rigorously scientific “evidenced-based” proof that they improve “mortality and morbidity outcomes.”
No one argued that the program hasn’t greatly benefited some of the region’s most vulnerable residents. Iser, however, said that the lack of admittedly expensive research that would prove whether the program had categorically prevented deaths and illness meant it should be shelved in favor of programs with that scientific seal of approval.
But a majority of commissioners weren’t buying it.
“How about quality of life?” asked member and County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, who mounted the most impassioned plea among board members in favor of saving the program. “How about a family being able to stay together? We can’t say that it’s ‘effective’ [only] because we haven’t bothered to prove that it is. Not everybody is a number.”
In response to Iser’s remarks about the program’s lack of scientific proof of its effectiveness, board member John Marz asked,” It’s taken us 30 years to figure out it doesn’t work? Is it a benefit to the mothers and children who have no place else to go?”
“We know it’s helping people,” board member Wade Wagner added.
The board’s vote extends funding for the Maternal Child Health Program for at least one year. In addition, the board agreed that it will review the performance of the program and the district’s somewhat complementary, but more expensive, restrictive and “evidence-based” Nurse-Family Partnership Program, in six months.
In an after-meeting email high-five, Cara Evangelista, chief steward of the district’s non-supervisory employees, called out the unity SEIU exhibited at the more than four-hour meeting, including fellow chapter leaders Harding; Mark Bergtholdt, vice president of the chapter’s supervisory employees; and Jacque Raiche-Curl, chief steward of the chapter’s supervisory employees; members from the local’s healthcare sector, and the local’s staff.
“I believe that this was part of what tipped the scales: to see all of you there in support,” Evangelista wrote. “It’s nice to get a victory once and awhile!”