Portland, Ore. — Doctors at six Legacy Health hospitals in Oregon and Washington have voted to unionize this week. The hospital doctors, known as hospitalists, are unionizing with the aim of improving local health care and ensuring frontline providers have a voice in decisions affecting patient care, community health, and hospital working conditions.
Eric Seymour, a pediatric hospitalist at Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland, highlighted the need for more staff to care for increasingly ill patients. He emphasized the importance of hospitalists advocating for patients and their families, expressing the desire for a seat at the table to address staffing, tools, and support issues.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) oversaw the Legacy hospitalists’ elections and certified the results on Friday, Nov. 17. The new hospitalist group will join the Pacific Northwest Hospital Medicine Association (PNWHMA), a physician and advanced practice provider union represented by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and staffed by the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA).
Legacy hospitalists are the latest frontline health care workers to join Oregon’s white coat labor movement. This year, doctors and advanced practice providers at various Legacy hospitals, Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, Providence Women’s Clinics, Providence Home Health and Hospice, and Providence Medford Medical Center have also voted to unionize. Additionally, nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, registered nurses, social workers, and genetic counselors at Legacy’s women’s health clinics in Oregon and Washington filed for a union election to join ONA on Nov. 9.
The new union hospitalists at Legacy work at Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center in Portland, Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center in Tualatin, Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center in Gresham, and Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center in Vancouver, WA.
Dr. Rob Morgan, an internal medicine physician at Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center and Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, expressed the hope that the union will help build a strong, long-term relationship with hospital leadership, prioritizing the wellbeing of physicians and necessary resources for providing safe, sustainable, high-quality patient care.
The nearly 200 hospitalists at Legacy immediately become one of the largest hospitalist union groups in the country, joining nearly 700 ONA union nurses and mental and behavioral health professionals already working in the Legacy Health system.