Union RNs to Hold NEPA Hospital Forum on Monday, 1/7
Wilkes-Barre, Pa. - Registered nurses will present "The State of Our NEPA Hospitals" to the public on Monday evening in the Luzerne County Courthouse Rotunda to highlight patient care concerns related to staffing.
Address: 200 N River St. Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711
The event, hosted by the Wyoming Valley Nurses Association (WVNA), a union local of Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP), will begin at 6:00pm in the courthouse rotunda, followed by a reception and light refreshments. Union nurses will present staffing concerns regarding the region's two major hospital systems and what it means for area patients.
Elaine Weale RN, president of WVNA, said, "Across northeast Pennsylvania, nurses negotiate with these enormous hospital corporations who have not yet agreed to or successfully implemented changes to nurse staffing to the levels that we believe are necessary. We want the public to know where we stand and we hope you'll join us."
Nurses at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital have been in contract bargaining since late 2017 with Tennessee-based owner, Community Health Systems. After 10 citations last March by the PA Department of Labor and Industry for illegal use of mandatory overtime, nurses went out on a one-day strike in May last year, citing low staffing levels as their primary issue.
In July, nurses called for an investigation by the PA Department of Health and in September, a week-long inspection of the hospital by the department found 19 violations of state and federal health codes.
The inspectors found a “systemic nature of non-compliance with regards to nursing services” citing, among other evidence, that management “failed to schedule a sufficient number of RNs and/or ancillary staff on the nursing units for 81 of 148 shifts reviewed.” The report found 91 open RN positions and reliance on an excessive use of overtime.
WVNA released a report in December titled "The State of Our Hospital" and overwhelmingly voted to authorize their bargaining committee to submit another strike notice if a contract settlement that addresses their issues cannot be reached.
At Geisinger Community Medical Center, a union contract with Northeast Pennsylvania Nurses Association was reached in April 2017, but was reopened for negotiations last fall due to the hospital failing in their commitment to hire and retain 100 full-time registered nurses by August 2018. The nurses and management are currently engaged in negotiations to improve standards that recruit and retain nurses at the hospital.
Members of NEPANA, also a union local of PASNAP, analyzed data provided by the hospital for the use of overtime, travel nurses, and international agency nurses and has identified the need for 235 additional full-time RNs.
Shannon Reichard RN, a NEPANA officer, said "We are urging Geisinger to focus on attracting and retaining enough nurses, not only to provide the best care for our patients, but because offering great healthcare careers means a healthy workforce, predominately made up of women, and a reason for young graduates to remain in northeast Pennsylvania."
Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, a union of dedicated nurses and health professionals across Pennsylvania, formed in 2000 and is dedicated to the belief that patients receive the best care when clinical care staff has a strong voice to advocate for both patients and themselves.