June 29 @ 8:00 am - August 1 @ 5:00 pm
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!”
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The vital services provided to our community by the Southern Nevada Health Department are under assault and we need your help to persuade politicians to spare them.
Now in the crosshairs is our Maternal Child Health Program, which serves at-need mothers, both during pregnancy and after birth. Nurses in this program work with University Medical Center, Child Protective Services, SafeNest and other organizations to protect everyone from mothers and children on the Paiute Reservation to pregnant pre-teens throughout the region.
Every state in the union has a similar program and eliminating it in Southern Nevada will no doubt lead to a spike in infant illnesses and a decline in prenatal care. (The Health Department is considering axing it in favor of its far more-restrictive Nurse-Family Partnership Program.)
With so many of our social safety net programs stretched to the breaking point, we need both!
In March, the Clark County Commission increased – by $1.2 $2.1 million – an $18.6 million allocation it will make to the Southern Nevada Health District in fiscal year 2015 (which begins July 1, 2014). About $500,000-to-$600,000 is needed to spare the Maternal Child Health Program. On Monday, we’ll ask the Southern Nevada District Board of Health to carve that amount from the larger-than-expected $1.2 million it is receiving from the county.
Please “Purple Up” and attend this meeting, and implore the Board to spare this critical program and the skilled jobs of our members who support it. The meeting is at 5 PM April 28 in Conference Room 2 of the Health District’s main offices, 330 S. Valley View Blvd., Las Vegas.
The Health Department’s Nursing Division only employs about 160 to cover the entire county, including close to 2 million residents and nearly 50 million tourists annually. We need every single Health Department employee and program. Please help us preserve these vital services!
Contact SEIU 1107 SNHD Vice President of Non-Supervisory Employees Victoria Harding at email@example.com, Vice President Supervisory Employees Mark Bergtholdt at firstname.lastname@example.org, Chief Steward of Non-Supervisory Employees Cara Evangelista at 702-985-6718, or Chief Steward of Supervisory Employees Jacquelyn Raiche-Curl at email@example.com.
Wednesday, February 22 our Bargaining Team invoked Fact Finding to settle the SNHD contract. After 20 bargaining sessions, including several mediated sessions, management still wants MORE CONCESSIONS that our Bargaining Team COULD NOT AGREE TO!
After the general meeting, Wednesday, February 8 with the employees of SNHD, it was apparent to our Bargaining Team that our members would not ratify any agreement that included shift-work and other takeaways.
Articles That Remain in Dispute
Thursday, February 23, members of our Bargaining Team delivered the ‘Restore Our Standards!’ petition to the Board. The petition calls for the Board to take action regarding the Chief Health Officer, Director of Administration and Manager of Human Resources and states that we no longer have confidence in their ability to maintain the high standards and ethics expected by Southern Nevadans and the employees of the Health District. The Board received our petition and we are pushing forward by seeking more information and continuing our research.
Below is an excerpt from the Board meeting where your Chief Steward and VP both speak directly to the Board to fight for our members.
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