Hospital Spokeswoman Says Strike Has Closed Two Clinics

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - A spokeswoman for a hospital system whose workers have been on strike for more than a week said Thursday that two clinics had to temporarily close and several pharmacies are at risk.

Candace Elkins, spokeswoman for Appalachian Regional Healthcare, said clinics have been closed in Cumberland, Ky., and Hinton, W.Va. None of the 12 pharmacies have closed yet, Elkins said, but may have to if the strike continues much longer.

"The long-term effect of the strike is that a number of our hospitals could possibly close," Elkins said. "The strike does not send a good message to new businesses."

Roger McGinnis, president of the United Steelworkers union in Harlan, Ky., said Elkins was exaggerating the effects of the strike.

"Their facilities are still up and running, still functioning," McGinnis said. "From what we see, business has definitely slowed down, but they are still running the hospitals. The union would be happy to go back to the table when they get serious about negotiating."

Hundreds of workers at the hospital system, which has facilities in eastern Kentucky and West Virginia, went on strike last week due to disagreements on wages and health care costs.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

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