Oklahoma Public Employees Association seeks court action against privatizing Griffin Memorial Hospital

JULIE BISBEE, Capitol Bureau Modified: August 12, 2009 at 6:44 pm •  Published: August 12, 2009
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The Oklahoma Public Employees Association is asking a judge to decide if efforts to privatize operations at the Griffin Memorial Hospital in Norman fall within the state law.

The employees association said this afternoon during a news conference that the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services failed to follow state law when it entered into a contract with Red Rock to manage and operate a unit of the hospital. The lawsuit names the department and Commissioner Terri White.

State employees are being asked to transfer to other locations, take pay cuts or accept less desirable shifts to accommodate the privatization effort, said Sterling Zearley, OPEA executive director.

"They've not completed the process and the only recourse we have for patients and employees is through the courts," Zearley said.

White called the allegations in the legal filing, "absolutely unfounded," and said that officials with the Department of Mental Health on several occasions have attempted to meet with members of OPEA to discuss changes at Griffin.

White said no state workers will be displaced by organization changes at Griffin prompted by cuts to the department's budget this past legislative session. She did say some maybe asked to transfer to different locations.