Kalamazoo Nurses Could Face Mandatory Transfer To East Side Hospitals, Union Says

Apr 6, 2020

Ascension St. John Hospital in Detroit is shown in this photo from early April 2020
Credit Paul Sancya / AP Photo

A union that represents nurses at Kalamazoo’s Ascension Borgess hospital says some members could face mandatory reassignment to care for coronavirus patients in the Detroit area. The Michigan Nurses Association says Ascension Borgess hospital plans to make some nurses transfer if it doesn’t get enough volunteers.

Jamie Brown is the president of the MNA’s chapter at Borgess. She says the union wants to bargain with the hospital.

“We want guarantees that they’re not going to send any vulnerable nurses that are pregnant, breastfeeding or immunocompromised,” she said. “If we could come up with a good voluntary program I don’t think that we would have to mandate nurses, or the hospital wouldn’t have to.”

Brown said the union is against forcing members to take the assignment.

“You don’t know what their home life is like, you don’t know if there’s child care, you don’t know if they’re taking care of elderly parents or grandparents, there’s so many unknowns in their personal life that it could have a huge negative impact on their personal life,” she said.

In a statement, Ascension said it had yet to force any transfers. It said “emergency response plans” were in place to ensure care on the east side of the state, but did not specify whether nurses could be forced to relocate.

“Compensation, housing and expenses are provided for during any relocation,” the organization wrote, adding that staff “from across Ascension Michigan” had volunteered to help with the crisis.