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800 UPMC Altoona RNs Achieve Strong Contract to Improve Staffing

Altoona RNs_2017
On February 7th, registered nurses at UPMC Altoona voted to ratify a new 3-year contract by an overwhelming 96% majority.  The three-year agreement addresses nurses’ number one concern: Staffing.

“Study after study links better staffing to better patient outcomes. And as a nurse, I see it in my work every day,” said Sandy Wagner, RN in the Medical Intensive Care Unit. “If we have enough nurses to give every patient more time, better instructions and more focus we can catch problems that can be missed when we’re rushed. Our goal is to improve patient care and I think this contract reinforces that commitment.”

Staffing improvements also tackle one of the largest concerns for Americans – rising healthcare costs. Adequate staffing leads to healthier patients, fewer complications, fewer re-admissions and better reimbursements for the hospital. Nurses know an investment in staffing is an innovative way to tackle this nationwide problem.

“It’s not uncommon to hear patients and their families talking about their financial concerns,” said Paula Stellabotte, and RN in the ICU and chapter president. “Nobody should have that burden on top of worrying about the health of a loved one. We need to find ways to lower healthcare costs for everyone. Having more nurses helps catch small problems before they become larger, more expensive problems.”

The contract also includes wages and adjustments to help recruit and retain nurses at UPMC Altoona, and a cap on healthcare premium increases.

Other contract highlights include:

  • Hiring an additional 30 nurses above current job postings to meet the increase in patients;
  • Improved scheduling practices;
  • Commitment to meet with Chief Nursing Executive at UPMC twice a year to discuss staffing concerns and develop solutions;
  • More opportunities for training;
  • Wage increases and adjustments to help ensure recruitment and retention: 2%, 2.5% and 2.5% each year of the contract;
  • Controlled health insurance costs – increases are capped to not to exceed an increase greater than 15% of the prior years premium.

“We don’t want to lose skilled and experienced nurses,” said Kim Heverly, RN. “This contract is important to keeping nurses – and good jobs – here in our region.”

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