Message from Maureen May, PASNAP's New President
I am truly delighted to be your newly elected President of PASNAP. It is a privilege and an honor to serve members of the most trusted profession in America. I have worked as a direct care Registered Nurse for thirty-four years, practicing with a deep compassion for patients and an ongoing commitment to making safe patient care a priority.
During my tenure as a nurse, I was an active participant in the Institute of Medicine’s landmark study “To Err Is Human.” The empirical evidence from this study supported what most direct caregivers were already experiencing. It showed that there were over 100,000 deaths per year due to medical error and, unfortunately, as nurses and professional caregivers, we played a big part in this tragedy.
Working in a non-union hospital made it practically impossible to fight for safe patient care. Advocating for improved conditions often resulted in denial of one’s vacation time, involuntary changes to one’s posted schedule, and even negative comments on one’s performance review. Meanwhile, despite a continuing erosion in the quality of patient care, managers and administrators insisted that conditions were fine and encouraged us to just “do the best we can.” It became evident to me twenty years ago that the only protected way to effectively advocate for patients and fair working conditions was through organized labor. That is when I became a union nurse at Temple University Hospital.
Serving as a union representative and as TUHNA President has deepened my commitment to patient advocacy and to fighting for fair working conditions. I am pleased to be a founding member of PASNAP and to have participated in our many successes. During my time in our organization we lobbied for and won legislation to ban mandatory overtime for healthcare workers, known as ACT 102. We went on strike for 28 days to preserve our right to speak on behalf of our patients, and justifiably won unemployment compensation for all days out on the picket line. Most recently, we successfully organized more than 3,000 nurses and other professionals in the Philadelphia region in less than a year. This was the greatest organizing campaign in the history of PASNAP and resulted in an unprecedented number of nurses and professionals becoming union members.
There is much more work to be done and the fight will continue as we face an uncertain future. Cuts to Medicare & Medicaid in a profit-driven system, attacks on labor unions, and the largest nursing shortage this country has ever experienced will all have a serious negative impact on the delivery of safe patient care. If we are to meet these challenges, healthcare unions will be crucial to our success. As your President, I pledge to represent PASNAP in a fair and honest manner, while doing my absolute best to make you all proud of your union.
Maureen May, RN
Temple University Hospital