Delaware County Memorial Hospital Nurses, Technical Employees Announce 2-Day Strike on March 5-6 to Protest Stalled Bargaining and Unfair Labor Practices
Billionaire hedge-fund hospital owners have not agreed to critical patient safety issues
after months of contract negotiation
Drexel Hill, PA - Today, more than a year after winning their union under the previously non-profit Crozer system, 370 nurses and technical employees at Delaware County Memorial Hospital (DCMH) announced a 2-day strike to protest the Hospital owner’s approach in negotiations and their ongoing unfair labor practices. In July, 2016, the Hospital was acquired by Prospect Medical Holdings Inc, a subsidiary of the multi-billion dollar hedge fund Leonard Green & Partners.
The DCMH Registered Nurses and technical employees, such as Respiratory Therapy and Radiology technicians, are members of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses & Allied Employees (PASNAP). The union has been engaged in contract negotiations with Prospect for months and the hedge fund has steadfastly refused to talk about guaranteed patient safety through safe staffing practices.
DCMH nurses and technical staff are committed to resolving outstanding issues and concluding this contract without a strike and are prepared to meet continuously with the employer between now and March 5th.
In addition to differences concerning staffing, patient safety and the cost of health insurance, the union has brought charges against Prospect at the National Labor Relations Board because of their refusal to provide information, illegal changes to employee health insurance rates, decreased number of staff at the hospital, and other unilateral changes.
“For our patients, we must win a fair contract that will ensure safety for the Delco community,” says Angela Neopolitano, a registered nurse who has worked at DCMH for 36 years. “This is why we are taking this step reluctantly; the dedicated nursing and technical staff deserve working and patient care conditions that prioritizes high quality patient care for the community.”
When Prospect Medical Holdings’ purchased DCMH in July 2016, the hedge-fund agreed to be a good community partner by investing $200 million in the hospital system to improve services. Prospect has failed to live up to that promise, resulting in an increased number of patients per individual nurse, creating unsafe conditions for patients and staff alike. As a result, employees are leaving DCMH and staff are facing a shortage of basic equipment necessary to provide patient care. Currently, patient call-bell systems are broken and not functioning on at least two nursing units in the hospital. Prospect says it will be several weeks before the call-bell system is repaired or replaced. Meanwhile, patients are forced to use old-fashioned bells to call for their nurses, leading to great frustration for both patients and staff.
“The National Labor Relations Board has already prosecuted Prospect for their refusal to turn over to the Union basic information about their takeover of DCMH last July,” said Bill Cruice, Executive Director of PASNAP and chief spokesperson in the negotiations, “and we expect the Labor Board to soon issue yet more formal complaints against the Hospital for violations of employee rights. Their illegal behavior has no place in Delaware County.”
HISTORY of the UNION
Citing concerns regarding patient care and wanting a strong voice on the job, in January and February 2016, nurses and technical employees at DCMH formed their union while still working for the non-profit Crozer Keystone Health System. Contract negotiations with Crozer were interrupted by the for-profit takeover in July, 2016. The Union has been attempting to get Prospect to agree to a first union contract since that time.
PROSPECT'S BUSINESS PRACTICES
Prospect Medical Holdings’ facilities across the country have come under critical scrutiny. Some of their hospitals have the worst possible patient satisfaction scores and are among the worst ranked in the nation. The company is under investigation by the IRS and the State of California and, despite operating hospitals in Delaware County, the hedge fund is registered in the State of Delaware and does not pay Pennsylvania corporation taxes.
BENEFITS OF SAFE STAFFING
Nearly every academic study ever commissioned has shown that safe nurse staffing saves patients’ lives, generates far superior health outcomes, shorter patient wait times and saves hospitals and taxpayers money. At a time when the nation is entering yet another critical nursing shortage, hospital owners such as Prospect Medical Holdings owes it to the community to really listen to their Registered Nurses and other dedicated frontline staff.
DCMH nurses and technical staff are represented by the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP). PASNAP represents 8,300 nurses and health professionals throughout the state and has grown rapidly as bedside caregivers have sought a stronger voice to advocate for patients.
For more information, please contact:
Bill Cruice, PASNAP Executive Director: (215) 219-6387, Billcruice@aol.com
Randa Ruge, PASNAP Lead Organizer: (412) 522-9687, Randa.Ruge@gmail.com