After six months of negotiations, Anchorage’s Providence Alaska Medical Center and the union representing about 1,200 of its nurses reached a last-minute, tentative deal on a new contract Friday — the day before its old contract was set to expire.
The new, three-year contract includes pay raises for nurses and a paid-time-off benefit program with paid maternity and paternity leave, as well as short-term disability, according to the nurses union, the Alaska Nurses Association.
There’s also a new pilot program to address staffing during nurses’ lunch and rest breaks, said Jennifer Hazen, a registered nurse at Providence and a member of the union. Under the program, there will be a nurse assigned to fill in for others during their breaks.
“Nurses can leave the bedside to get breaks for lunch and not have to worry,” Hazen said.
Currently, there’s a “buddy system,” she said. If a nurse wants to take a lunch break, they’ll ask another on-duty nurse to help cover their patients. But that doubles the workload, Hazen said, and some nurses reported simply not taking breaks.
The union still must ratify the contract deal. It will vote at the end of August.
Hazen said she was “really happy” with the tentative agreement. In a brief statement Saturday, Providence said it was “very pleased” to announce the deal.