Northside Medical Center: "No plans to close" - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Northside Medical Center: "No plans to close"

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - A statement issued by Northside Medical Center says the hospital has no plans to close.

According to Trish Hrina, Northside's Vice President of Marketing and Communications, the statement was issued in response to a comment State Representative Bob Hagan made on Monday morning.

Hagan told 21 news that Kirk Ray, the CEO of ValleyCare told him that management has made it's final contract offer to members of the Ohio Nurses Association, and told the lawmakers that the hospital could close.

According to Hagan, Ray told him that he was not making a threat.

Hagan says Ray made the statement after Hagan and State Representative Ron Gerberry met with Ray to ask the hospital to return to the bargaining table. The lawmakers offered to sit in on the negotiations to try and bring the two sides together.

Hagan said Ray gave strong indications that would not happen.

The two lawmakers say they believe that the contract dispute is really in the hands of the parent company of the hospital, Community Health Systems of Tennessee.

"The bottom line is that Kirk Ray is not at the table. He's not negotiating the contract. It's being negotiated by other people", said Representative Gerberry.

Representative Hagan told 21 News, "We want to help negotiate, and if we can't help negotiate, we want them to negotiate, and we're not getting a response from that CEO" 

The statement from Northside said that millions of dollars are being invested to improve the hospital, including a $20 million expansion of the emergency department and patient care areas.

The statement notes that hospital representatives have met in face to face negotiations with the nurses union on more than 20 different occasions, denying that the hospital has failed to bargain in good faith.

The meeting with Northside's CEO came on the same day as the remaining nurses who took part in last week's 24 hour strike returned to work.

Members of the Ohio Nurses Association staged a rally outside as they returned to the hospital Monday morning.

Although the strike ended Wednesday, the hospital says it allowed temporary replacement nurses to complete the 72 hours of work for which they were contracted.

The hospital denies a contention by the nurses union that they were selectively locked out.

Nurses have not had a contract for 14 months.

There are no negotiations scheduled.

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