[Feb. 22, 2016] OCEANSIDE, Calif. – A hospital worker and union leader who is heading up a ballot initiative to limit executive compensation at Tri-City Medical Center has been fired by the facility for an incident that occurred just 12 days after the employee filed the ballot measure with San Diego County election officials.
Cheryl Rhead strongly refutes the hospital’s accusation that she improperly accessed a patient’s file on Dec. 29, 2015, for which she was fired Feb. 18 – after nearly 19 years on the job. She is planning to file a complaint with the Public Employee Relations Board to contest the hospital’s decision and seek to have her job restored.
“It’s disturbing to see how low Tri-City management will go to intimidate workers who just want to improve patient care and hold the hospital accountable to taxpayers,” said Charles Harris, a transportation driver at Tri-City and fellow proponent on the ballot initiative. “Retaliating against loyal employees like Cheryl Rhead just goes to show the true priorities of the hospital and how much it’s lost touch with serving the community.”
The proposed ballot initiative would prohibit any Tri-City Medical Center executive from receiving more than $250,000 in annual compensation and requires the compensation for its 10-highest paid executives be published yearly on the healthcare district’s website. Signature gathering began in January with plans to qualify it for the Nov. 8, 2016 ballot. A poll conducted last October found 83 percent of likely voters in the district support the ballot measure.
In January 2016, healthcare workers called on the Tri-City Healthcare District to switch to district-based seats for electing board members, a system that would improve Latino representation, and avoid potential lawsuits against the district under the California Voting Rights Act. Latinos make up 35 percent of residents in the healthcare district, but only one Latino has apparently been elected to the Tri-City board of directors since 1992.
More than 800 employees at Tri-City Medical Center are members of SEIU-UHW, a union of 85,000 hospital workers in California.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS:
- Dec. 17, 2015:
Cheryl Rhead and a Tri-City co-worker become the lead signatories, or proponents, on a ballot initiative filed with the San Diego County Registrar of Voters to limit executive compensation at Tri-City Medical Center.
- Dec. 29, 2015:
Tri-City accuses Rhead of being involved in patient privacy violation.
- Jan. 12, 2016:
Tri-City begins investigation of alleged Dec. 29 patient privacy violation.
- 29, 2016:
Tri-City puts Rhead on administrative leave.
- Feb. 16, 2016:
A San Diego Superior Court judge dismisses Tri-City’s attempt to halt signature gathering for the executive compensation ballot initiative.
- Feb. 18, 2016:
Tri-City issues written termination notice to Rhead.