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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Nursing strike suit dropped

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Health Writer

The lawyers for 10 patients at St. Francis Medical Center have withdrawn their request for court orders seeking to have 45 nurses on strike return to work in specialized units at the facility.

About 1,400 nurses are in the second week of a strike against three of the state's largest hospitals — St. Francis Medical Center, The Queen's Medical Center and Kuakini Medical Center.

Attorney Burnham Greeley filed the lawsuit last week against the Hawai'i Nurses Association, asking that "essential workers" report to work in the hospital dialysis units for kidney patients, hospice care for the terminally ill and the transplant unit.

Greeley yesterday asked that his motions for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction be dismissed: "It is our understanding that through negotiations and other means, the basic objectives we sought to accomplish had been met. Basically, we felt we'd achieved what we wanted to do."

But the Hawai'i Nurses Association said attorneys for the organization had notified Greeley's firm that they intend to seek sanctions against the plaintiffs and their attorneys for bringing a frivolous claim if the case continued.

Sue Scheider, director of collective bargaining for the nurses union, had discounted the lawsuit from the start. "Never did the court find that there was any effect of the nurses' strike on the ability of the dialysis centers to provide treatment or patient care," she said.

St. Francis had shortened dialysis treatments after the strike began. Scheider said she was relieved the case was withdrawn but felt that St. Francis "overreacted and curtailed treatment times when it did not have to."

Greeley said that St. Francis isn't back to normal but is functioning to the point that going to court would not affect the current status of the hospital. He said the majority of hospice nurses are continuing to work and that the nurses' association and St. Francis have come to an agreement for the continued operation of the organ transplant teams.

Greeley also said that St. Francis is hiring traveling replacement nurses to assist kidney patients who require dialysis treatment.

A hearing on the motions had been set for tomorrow before Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario.

No new negotiations have been scheduled.

Reach Robbie Dingeman at rdingeman@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8070.