Religious Leaders Call For Resolution To Contract Dispute

HAZARD, Ky. (AP) - Religious leaders from nine states are asking Appalachian Regional Healthcare officials and striking nurses at the system's nine hospital to resolve their contract dispute for the sake of their patients.

The Rev. John Rausch says that the quality of health care in Appalachia will suffer if the dispute isn't settled soon. Rausch is the director of the Catholic Committee on Appalachia.

Rausch and more than 75 other leaders submitted a letter on Wednesday to ARH President and CEO Jerry Haynes and to members of
the Kentucky and West Virginia nurses association.

The letter supports continuous bargaining, but scolds ARH for permanently replacing about 150 of the striking nurses.

About 650 nurses walked off the job Oct. 1. Last week, the remaining 500 rejected a contract offer in a 455-5 vote.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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