ACMH Nurses & Techs Fight to Preserve Local Care

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PASNAP members at Armstrong County Memorial Hospital (ACMH) in Western Pennsylvania are fighting hard for fair contracts for RNs, CRNAs, LPNs, and Techs. Both the nurse and tech groups have worked for months without a contract while patient safety is threatened due to unsafe staffing. For the first time, ACMH nurses and techs are negotiating together and are fully committed to settling fair contracts simultaneously.

While key issues facing ACMH nurses and techs in negotiations are familiar to all healthcare professionals — safe staffing, fair wages, and secure jobs — ACMH faces unique challenges. As a rural community hospital, it’s the largest employer as well as the only hospital in the County. When there isn’t enough nursing staff to take care of patients — as is frequently the case — management sends sick patients 45 minutes away for care, while telling patients that this unnecessary and unsafe transfer is because all beds are filled. Management refuses to agree to enforceable safe staffing that would allow for nurses and techs to hold management accountable to maintaining patient safety standards.

As nurse leader Betheny Dunn (Telemetry) told the local newspaper, The Leader Times, “We’ve worked for too long in unsafe conditions without the staffing that our patients need and deserve. We can’t provide proper care when we are chronically understaffed.”

Tech/LPN Co-President Cris Scott agreed in another interview with local press: “Our main goal is about safe staffing. We just want to make sure that we have adequate staffing to take care of our patients the way that we feel they deserve.”

While patient safety is at the core of the fight for fair contracts, ACMH nurses and techs are compensated below their counterparts in other hospitals in Western Pennsylvania. As the largest employer in the County, the Hospital must guarantee competitive wages in order to recruit and retain talented staff. Unsurprisingly, ACMH management has also refused this common sense proposal and has offered insultingly low raises of 1%.

On May 7, nurses and techs held a powerful informational picket to kick off Nurses Week
and demonstrate their strength and unity to management. The message was sent loud and clear: Over 150 nurses and techs walked the picket line in a local of 340! There was also great PASNAP solidarity, with fellow PASNAP nurses from Butler joining the picket line to show their support.

As they go back to the negotiating table determined to win guaranteed patient and staff safety and good, secure jobs, ACMH nurses and techs are united and strong as steel in the fight for good jobs and patient safety in Armstrong County!

Zack Rearick