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Tuesday, Aug 16, 2022
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West Hills Breaks Ground on ER, Unions Protest

West Hills Hospital and Medical Center broke ground on a 47,000-square-foot addition which is scheduled to open some time in 2008, as about a dozen union employees were on hand to protest staffing levels. Beverly Gilmore, CEO of West Hills Hospital, said the hospital’s expansion is extremely important to San Fernando Valley residents at a time when hospitals and emergency rooms across Los Angeles County are closing. “We are one of the few hospitals dedicated to expanding our ability to provide first-rate emergency and critical care to our patients,” Gilmore said. The upgrade will include a two-story, 47,000-square-foot-addition, the first floor of which will house a 24-bed emergency department with sophisticated equipment and specialized treatment areas. The expansion will also double the number of beds in the hospital’s intensive care unit from 16 to 34. Dr. Alan Kuban, the hospital’s chief of staff, said that the new emergency department will reduce the amount of time the hospital is using all of its beds and is forced to send ambulances to other hospitals’ emergency departments. During the ceremony, about one dozen hospital employees protested against what they described as an effort by West Hills Hospital management to under-staff its departments. The employees were not allowed into tent that housed the groundbreaking for hospital board members and other guests. West Hills spokeswoman Jill Dolan explained that a separate ceremony, to which all hospital employees were invited, was to be held later that morning. At one point, one of the protestors was involved in a brief altercation with a man wearing a badge that identified him as a hospital vendor. After the event, the hospital released a statement saying that hospital management has “an obligation to provide for the safety of those attending and working at the event and took appropriate steps to do so.” SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West and SEIU 121RN are in negotiations with West Hills. Dana Simon, a negotiator working for both unions, said employees support the expansion project but are concerned that patients will not get the care they need without increased staffing. Marilyn Lang, vice president of ethics and compliance and risk manager for the hospital said that staffing at the hospital is in line with state requirements and adjusted according to the number and needs of the hospital’s patients.

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