Tell HCMC to Respect Sophia

Sophia Christian
Sophia Christian

Sophia Christian was just two weeks shy of her 32nd anniversary at the HCMC Echocardiography Lab when she learned she was being laid off. AFSCME believes the principal office specialist is being targeted because of her age. She’s only two years away from being able to retire.

“I’ve always wanted to be in the medical field. It’s interesting because you’re always learning something new. There are always new discoveries. Back in 1985, it took me over a year to get in -- people wanted to work at HCMC. I was on a waiting list.

I loved it there. They were like my family. I’ve been there so long, I’ve been through people dying, getting married, having babies there. After a while, you’re a fixture.

I scheduled outpatients, did billing for the Echo Lab and EKG Department, answered phones, did the preliminary monthly schedule. I took inpatient orders and prepared the testing paperwork. I ordered supplies.  When my coworker got backed up at the front desk, I would go and help until everyone was checked in. I did hand hygiene audits to make sure workers were foaming in and out, monthly national patient safety audits and environment of care audits. They must be done to stay ready for accreditation. That’s only part of the list.

People would come to me and ask me questions: Where do I go to get this, who do I call for this, how did you fix that? If they needed to know something, I had the answers a majority of the time. If a test was ordered that didn’t sound quite right, I’d tell a nurse so she could check into it and change it if it wasn’t.

On Feb. 22, I got called into my supervisor’s office. I got a form saying my job’s been eliminated. I thought my division was making money, doing well, I have a lot of seniority, I should be safe. And then boom.

They gave me three options, one was full-time and two were part-time. I was told I was second in seniority. I can’t afford to work part-time! They told me I needed to make my decision by that Friday, 48 hours to make that decision.

I was walking out and I was starting to cry. Everybody was asking me what was going on. I said they had just cut my position. They started to cry. I went home, I was just devastated. I called my husband, I couldn’t function, I felt betrayed. I went to work the next day. I started crying, I couldn’t stop. I felt like I got socked in the gut, like somebody died.

People wanted to have a party for me. I didn’t want to celebrate the fact I was being kicked out. I wasn’t leaving because I wanted to leave. I’ve never been reprimanded, I’ve been promoted twice. I think it’s dirty they’re targeting me because they have to pay me sick time, vacation time, I get my holidays paid, and I’m close to getting that retirement benefit. They don’t want to pay it out.

My final day in the lab was March 17. April 1st would have been 32 years.

On March 20, I moved to MVNA, (Minnesota Visiting Nurse Agency). The person with more seniority than me chose retirement. The first week I showed up, they handed me a manual and told me to go and read it. They’re very nice to me but I feel like I still haven’t been fully trained. I don’t have sign-ins for everything.  The person I’m bumping is training me. That’s made it very hard. Her last day is tomorrow, and I don’t know everything she does yet.

Medica is dropping out (of the insurance exchange), and that’s what the new job is. Then what will I be doing? Will I be going through this all over again? I hope not.”