Molokai Nurses Unite
6-3 vote favors joining Hawaii Nurses Association
By Jennifer Smith
For two decades the Molokai General Hospital (MGH) staff has provided personalized treatment to every patient that walks through their doors. A true ohana style facility, six years ago they could boast that the entire nursing staff consisted of all Molokai residents.
A 6-3 vote on unionizing by MGH’s current nine registered nurses (RN), decided to accept representation by the Hawaii Nurses Association (HNA).
With the past decade showing a high turnover, only two nurses remain from the original staff six years ago.
“Today we took another step to ensure the day when MGH will be filled with our own home-grown nurses,” said Gail Crabbe, a MGH RN.
Crabbe has seen nurses leave the island for opportunities elsewhere and feels that HNA could make the hospital a more competitive and desirable place to work.
With a recent influx of traveling nurses, serving three month contracts on the island, MGH finally has a permanent staff.
As for MGH patients, “There should not be any changes,” said Chief Administrator of Molokai General Hospital, Janice Kalanihuia. Hours, services, and quality of care should remain the same she said.
Kalanihuia said MGH is familiar with working with unions, and will work with HNA in the same manner.
Although the entire process of unionizing is subject to negotiations, she said that there will be transparency throughout the process.
HNA was founded in 1917 as a union for nurses. Today the association represents 10,000 RNs in Hawaii.
Like most unions, HNA uses collective bargaining to represent their members’ economic and general welfare in the workplace. They negotiate everything from wages to benefits to workplace safety and policies.
“Being part of the HNA potentially means a nurse can transfer from MGH to Queen’s or be from Queen’s and transfer to MGH and not lose benefits and seniority. That’s being competitive!” said Crabbe.
MGH has recently recruited two new graduates, Kapena Clute and Piikea Dudoit, both of Hawaiian ancestry, to learn acute care, maternity care and emergency room nursing at MGH.
Clute and Dudoit have both made a one year commitment to serve Molokai.
“We want to hold on to these promising young nurses. We’d like them to visit Molokai
Intermediate and Molokai High School and tell of what a great job they have. We’d like Molokai kids to set goals to go away to college and come back,” said Crabbe.
Crabbe sees unionization as the first step in ensuring the longevity of future generations of Hawaiian RNs on the island.