RNs at hospital hold a vote to send strike notice if agreement is not reached
(Beaver PA) – On Wednesday, registered nurses at Heritage Valley Beaver voted 98% in support of authorizing their bargaining committee to send a strike notice to management if they are not able to reach a new contract agreement.
“As nurses, we are on the front lines of patient care,” said Molly Romigh, RN. “I’m extremely concerned about some of the changes management wants to make, which could compromise patient safety, and our safety. We are standing together to protect our patients.”
Some of those changes would result in a single nurse caring for more patients, which is not only stressful but can lead to lower quality care.
“No patient wants to feel like a number. We want to give every person the time and attention they deserve,” said Jill Richner, who has been an OR nurse at HVB for 21 years. “When nurses have too many patients and are rushed, post-hospital instructions might not be thorough enough, or patients might not get to ask questions. This can lead to complications and readmissions.”
Another concern surrounds proposed changes that would force nurses to work in departments where they do not have extensive experience or expertise.
“All areas of nursing are different, and nurses chose the department they work in based on their skills, strengths, and interests,” explains Richner. “Patients want, and deserve to have, a nurse who is comfortable in that department, and is proficient in the specialty you require.”
Quality jobs are also an issue. Management is proposing wage freezes and sharp increases to healthcare benefits. This could affect the hospital’s ability to recruit and retain the best nurses.
“There are a lot of job avenues for nurses that do not involve bedside care,” Romigh says. “If the hospital is not offering competitive wages and benefits, they are simply not going to be able to draw quality nurses here. That is a real problem.”
The vote would authorize nurses to send a strike notice to management if an agreement cannot be reached. Their current contract is set to expire at the end of June, and nurses are committed to continuing to work with management to reach an agreement. They began negotiating last month.
The nurses are members of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania.