Award St. Mary Nurses a fair contract and PROTECT our community!
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St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, Pennsylvania has long been our largest local hospital and trauma center. The hospital was established in 1860 following a smallpox pandemic in Philadelphia by The Third Order of the Sisters of St. Francis. The Sisters wanted St. Mary to be a place of refuge, stating, "As long as God does not stop giving to us, we shall not stop giving to the poor." Since moving to Langhorne in 1973, St. Mary has provided the support our sick family, friends, and neighbors needed. Employing hundreds of nurses, St. Mary has been a pillar of our community and was consistently rated as one of the best places to work. All of that changed when Michigan-based Trinity Health Systems acquired St. Mary. In the years since, nurses and other employees at the hospital have noticed a decided turn for the worse.
Seemingly focused on their budget and not on patient care, Trinity Health has made numerous cuts causing direct threats to patient safety, despite the nurses' vocal pleading to restore them. After years of their pleas falling on deaf ears, the nurses chose to unionize with the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP). During this process, the nurses learned that St. Mary is one of the most profitable hospitals in the Trinity Health System, leading the nurses to question: were the cuts truly essential? Or simply a way to put profits before patient care? The nurses also discovered that they are some of the poorest paid despite working for one of the most profitable hospitals. The hospital bargaining team admitted as much, stating that St. Mary nurses are 15 years behind in wages. Still, the nurses didn't start their union journey with dreams of large salaries - their focus from the beginning has been on patient safety and safe staffing.
In the years since St. Mary became a Trinity hospital, nurses have noticed a definitive worsening in staffing across the board. On the medical-surgical floors, one nurse caring for six patients has become the norm. The two step-down floors (which should have a maximum of three patients per nurse) have consistently found themselves caring for four. In the ICU, where the maximum patient assignment should be two patients to one nurse, it's not unusual to find a nurse caring for three patients. Obtaining a fair contract isn't about making it "easier" for the nurse - it's about guaranteeing safety for the patient. For every extra patient a nurse adds to her assignment, the entire assignment's mortality rate increases by 7% - solely from the nurse being overburdened! In addition to unsafe staffing and assignments, many floors have found themselves lacking crucial support staff, including nursing assistants and housekeepers, with some floors working entire shifts with no nursing assistant. This dangerous understaffing increases the risk for patient falls and life-threatening complications since these other responsibilities fall on the shoulders of the nurse.
Trinity also chose to cut important teams that helped make the hospital safer, including the IV team and the Rapid Response team. The IV Team consisted of nurses specializing in IV placement and maintenance - meaning fewer needle sticks for patients with challenging anatomy. The rapid response team consisted of ICU trained nurses that acted as a resource for all nurses in the hospital when faced with a complicated patient. This nurse traveled to every hospital floor, identifying patients at risk for rapid decline, and helping nurses address this before it happened. When emergencies did happen, the rapid response nurse attended them with the ICU physician team and provided support and care alongside the primary nurse. Now, without this team, an ICU nurse must leave their patients to respond - doubling another ICU nurses' assignment until they return. Nurses brought concerns about these cuts to administration, with verifiable data proving their value, but again their concerns fell on deaf ears.
Throughout the past year, the nursing bargaining committee has been trying its best to negotiate a fair contract to protect their patients. They have asked for safer staffing grids that would ensure safe ratios. They have asked for competitive wages that will attract and retain qualified and experienced nurses, instead of the current cycle, which involves training new graduate nurses only to lose them to other hospitals that pay more and offer better benefits. Throughout this time, the Trinity bargaining team has insulted the nurses and condescended to them, treating them like dispensible placeholders. Through thinly veiled threats and lies, the Trinity bargaining team has tried to divide the nurses and convince them the cuts and the conditions are for the best... but the nurses know better. The nurses have done all they can to negotiate in good faith, yet Trinity is unwilling to bend. Trinity JUST settled a contract with another local hospital, Mercy Fitzgerald. The Mercy Fitzgerald contract is incredibly similar to the contract St. Mary nurses are fighting for - so why won't Trinity give their Langhorne nurses what they're willing to give their Darby nurses?
The nurses have decided that a two-day strike is the only way to let Trinity know that they will not be treated like martyrs any longer. On Tuesday, November 17th and Wednesday, November 18th, the nurses will demonstrate outside of the hospital and they NEED YOUR SUPPORT! Stand with your LOCAL nurses and say NO MORE to the Michigan corporation making millions off the backs of your family, friends, and neighbors! Support your local nurses and protect your loved ones by ensuring that OUR local hospital is not only available - but that it is SAFE.
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