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Hundreds of Seton Medical Center workers strike over their health care plan

Health care workers strike at Seton Medical Center to demand better health care plan
Health care workers strike at Seton Medical Center to demand better health care plan 03:59

Health care workers at Seton Medical Center went on strike to protest the health care plan their work offered them.

Around 400 workers demanded the hospital reverse recent changes to its health care plan. They said that starting in January they were given an impossible choice: pay $6,000 to keep seeing their regular doctors or accept a much more restricted plan.

They said the new plan severely limits access to pediatric and OBGYN care, and it only works at a select few facilities.

Rachelle Ortua has worked at Seton Medical Center for years. She loves the community of people at the hospital and grew up just blocks from its campus.

She said she is now in a tough spot. Ortua told KPIX that the hospital changed its health care insurance provider which significantly limited where her family could get care, including her 6-month-old daughter.

"Her pediatric doctor was no longer covered, and my OB is not covered. We're now out of network with all our doctors," Ortua said.

Ortua said her new insurance only works at Seton and John Muir health, which are about or over an hour away. And she worries constantly about what will happened, and how much it would cost, if her daughter has a medical emergency.

"I grew up with chronic asthma, and I actually have a food allergy, and right now at this point, what stresses me out the most is we're starting her on baby food," Ortua said. "I'm afraid that what if she has an allergic reaction to some kind of food or what if she ends up having asthma like me."

It's led to her feeling betrayed.

"I work full-time for a hospital, and it's not fair that I have to worry on whether or not I can afford to get my daughter proper health care," Ortua said.

That's why Ortua joined hundreds of her coworkers on a two-day strike outside the hospital, demanding better benefits. She said her daughter is the sole reason she is out there — She wants to make sure her daughter can get the medical care she needs and deserves.

"I'm only fighting for my daughter. That is the only, one of the main reason why I am in this strike," Ortua said.

Ortua said she plans on being at the picket line again on Tuesday. She hopes the strike will show the hospital just how serious the workers are about making changes.

Seton, in a statement, said it already offered a 16% pay hike over three years, along with free medical benefits and up to 400 hours annually of accrued paid time off.

"We are disappointed with the Union's decision to walk off the job in the middle of our negotiations at the expense of patient care," Seton said.

The hospital went on to say its priority is to provide uninterrupted care to patients.

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