More than 1,200 nurses at Providence Alaska Medical Center have ratified a new contract with the state’s largest hospital, weeks after reaching a last-minute agreement with its management.

The Alaska Nurses Association and Providence officials announced the agreement’s ratification Friday.

The agreement, reached Aug. 17 – the day before nurses’ contracts were set to expire – addresses concerns about poor retention of nurses at Providence, as well as reports that 90 percent of emergency room nurses were working through meal and rest breaks.

According to the association, the contract includes:

Implementing a 12-month, Break Nurse pilot program for the Intensive Care Unit and Emergency Department, utilizing a break nurse for meal relief and rest breaks
A new Paid Time Off program with paid parental leave
New short-term disability benefits
Tuition reimbursement opportunities for nurses employed more than 90 days

"After months of negotiations, advocating for improved staffing and benefits that affect patient care and nurse retention, we were happy to present the agreement to our nurses members," Donna Phillips, the association’s labor council chair, said in a statement. "We felt confident they would be in favor of this new agreement and are pleased to see it pass overwhelmingly."

The new contract takes effect immediately, according to Providence spokesman Mikal Canfield.

“Providence Alaska Medical Center is committed to high-quality, safe patient care and values the staff that provides this care,” Canfield wrote in an email.

Scott Jensen contributed information to this story.

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