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Providence officials checking OT pay

Providence to face nurse time card audit

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – After a KOIN 6 News investigation about nurses at Providence St. Vincent who claim they’ve been cheated out of overtime by managers who changed their time cards, KOIN 6 News obtained proof the time card tampering in the Providence system is not a one time problem.

Despite a hospital statement in September saying they have no reason to believe it’s a widespread issue, a KOIN 6 News investigation turned up evidence from hospital documents the same thing was happening in a physical therapy department at Providence Portland Medical Center three years ago.

One employee at Providence Portland Medical Center, who asked to remain anonymous, told KOIN 6 News the employees got their money back.

“But we were told to keep it quiet or be discreet about it,” she said.

When she was asked if she thought the issue was a matter of innocent mistakes or inept management, she said, “I think probably more of the latter than innocent.”

KOIN 6 News also uncovered court documents revealing a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of any employees who worked at Providence in the last six years.

Class action lawsuit against Providence Health Services (pdf)
Thomas Doyle, the lawyer representing the employees, told KOIN 6 News he’s not sure how many employees are involved. But he also said he finds it hard to believe the time card tampering is confined to only one Providence facility or one group of employees.

“I’m not shocked,” a Providence employee said. “I’m angered by it because I feel there is this trickle-down effect of upper management putting a lot of pressure on our supervisors and management of our departments in making ethical people do stupid things to try to make their budgets.”

KOIN 6 News requested an on-camera interview with Providence officials. They declined, but spokesperson Gary Walker provided a statement.

Referring to time card problems in the physical therapy case, Walker’s statement said: “It was isolated to the actions taken by one supervisor in one department. Following the 2010 review, appropriate personnel action was taken.”

The statement later said, “It would not be accurate to link this isolated incident to the recent review at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.”

During that incident involving physical therapy employees, Providence told KOIN 6 News 42 current and former employees were affected. They said when they corrected the time card errors, the average total payment per employee was $173.

While Providence points out in both of these cases they conducted reviews to make sure employees were paid properly, they are still auditing the last six years of nursing pay.

Walker added, “Correctly compensating our employees is a core commitment for us at Providence.”

But now at least one former employee and a lawyer looking at the case argue the time card hours of all employees should be checked.

“Providence owes it, I think, to us to because we work so hard and we care about the mission of Providence. I think they owe it to us,” the Providence employee said. “I’m hoping that because this has come to light and it’s been publicized that Providence will be more likely to follow their rules.”