Blowing the whistle on Santa Clara County

Karen Smit, respiratory therapist

Karen Smit, respiratory therapist

Blowing the whistle on the county’s failure to keep our community safe and healthy, Santa Clara County workers held a press conference on Thursday calling on elected officials to invest in frontline quality services and put Community First.

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“We are here today because our 911 services are in jeopardy. We are facing an emergency situation. Our emergency services are in jeopardy because the county is unable to recruit, train, and retain a cutting-edge workforce to serve our community,” said Ryan Noble, a senior county Communications Dispatcher.

Read the county’s “emergency situation” letter requiring 911 dispatchers to work overtime (PDF).

County workers in the coming days will be holding a vote to set a strike date because the county is ignoring a looming crisis: It cannot recruit and retain skilled professionals to deliver the quality services our community depends on.

If you have not yet pledged to put Community First, do it now!

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“The county’s retention rate for physical therapists is only 22%, lower than all other Bay Area hospitals. In three years, there have been 15 vacancies out of 42 full-time equivalent jobs,” said Karen Smit, a Respiratory Therapist. “The retention rate of pharmacists is only 54%. Over the last two years, 15 pharmacists have left for higher-paying jobs elsewhere.”

This poses a huge challenge when the county faces a deadline to implement health care reform and making sure everyone has access to quality affordable health care.

“We live and work in the heart of Silicon Valley and we should be recruiting and retaining a cutting-edge workforce that can serve our community,” said Luisa Blue, Chief Elected Officer of SEIU Local 521. “If the county is not willing to invest in quality public services and a cutting-edge workforce, then the county is giving us no other option but to strike.”

Also at the press conference in support were Dr. Russel Kosik, a Radiology Resident at Valley Medical Center and Max Zarzana, with Government Attorneys Association. Dr. Kosik addressed the need to recruit highly qualified physicians-in-training, especially during the expansion of heath care access, to ensure the highest quality patient care.

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