O'Bleness file photo

OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital President Mark Seckinger is seen in this Messenger file photo talking about renovations that were made in early 2018.

The world of business is never easy.

Unfortunately for some OhioHealth O’Bleness employees, it’s been edging away from the humdrum day-to-day grind toward a uncertain future.

However, for others, a pay raise is on the horizon.

Several departments of employees are being impacted by the hospital’s new “One patient, one record” electronic medical record model, which has been implemented this year.

In December, a spokesperson for the hospital said “the introduction of this new electronic medical record model will impact some associates in certain O’Bleness departments,” but did not specify what departments. Outside sources have claimed this could be upwards of 30 employees.

Other employees of the hospital are receiving significant raises due to a new agreement for the hospital’s minimum wage to be $15 per hour.

The statement noted the hospital disclosed this change with AFSCME Local 1252, who represents the associates, in May 2018 during that year’s collective bargaining discussions. Representatives of Local 1252 could not be reached by The Messenger.

“O’Bleness continues to work closely with Local 1252 to ensure an appropriate implementation of this change for our patients as it relates to our associates,” the December statement stated. “We are committed to ensuring that our associates are treated with respect and compassion. No O’Bleness associates have been laid off at this time, and no layoffs are planned for the remainder of the year.”

A second statement came from O’Bleness in January following another inquiry about the possible job losses.

“As the new electronic medical record is introduced, some impacted associates will be redeployed to other jobs with OhioHealth, some will continue working at O’Bleness, and others have chosen to separate from O’Bleness’ employment with a generous severance package,” the January statement read. “O’Bleness is proud of the steps it has taken to care for all of its associates while enhancing its ability to care for southeast Ohio.”

The new record model will connect to other care sites and “most of the other major health systems in central Ohio.” The hope is this will help with communication of patient records and improve care.

Other changes have also been introduced this month at the hospital — about 225 employees at O’Bleness will now receive $15 as minimum wage, up from $12.07. The change was ratified by Local 1252 members on Jan. 16, and the pay increase will be implemented in February.

This brings the number of OhioHealth employees impacted by the new$15 minimum wage across the entire Southeast Ohio system to about 400. 

“One of the most important things we can do for our associates and for the health of our community is to make sure we pay people fairly,” said Mark Seckinger, president of O’Bleness Hospital, in a statement. “That means each and every associate – regardless of where they work or the job they perform.”

OhioHealth said in the same press release that it defines fair pay as “compensation that is equitable within OhioHealth and competitive with its external market.” Ohio’s state minimum wage of $8.70 per hour, the press release stated, is not enough to enable people to support themselves and their families.

“As one of the largest employers in Athens County, we are happy and proud to be able to offer this increase,” said Seckinger in the release. “I want to thank the AFSCME leadership for their partnership and for ultimately helping improve the economic status of our associates and our communities.”

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