Rally and Press Conference on First Day of Two-Day Strike at
Delaware County Memorial Hospital:
With Billionaire Hedge Fund Owners Refusing to Budge of Patient Safety Issues, Nurses and Technicians at Will Go Strike March 5-6
What: Rally and press conference on first day of strike at DCMH
When: Sunday, March 5th at 1:30 PM
Where: Delaware County Memorial Hospital, near main entrance at 501 N Lansdowne Ave., Drexel Hill, PA 19026
Who: Registered Nurses and technicians on strike at DCMH; elected officials including State Senator Tom McGarrigle, State Rep. Jamie Santora, Mayor Tom Miccozzi, and Commissioner Mario Civera; patients and supporters
Drexel Hill, PA — After months of negotiations with the multi-billion-dollar hedge fund subsidiary Prospect Medical Holdings Inc, 370 nurses and technical staff at Delaware County Memorial Hospital (DCMH) will go on an unfair labor practice strike Sunday, March 5 and Monday, March 6. The hospital has already announced a subsequent three-day lock out. Prospect’s refusal to give adequate proposals on safe staffing, a critical issue that protects patients and guarantees high quality healthcare for the Delaware County community, forced the staff to strike.
Nurses, techs, and community supporters will be joined at the Sunday, March 5 rally by political allies, including State Senator Tom McGarrigle, State Representative Jamie Santora, Upper Darby Tom Miccozzi, and Delaware County Commissioner Mario Civera.
On Friday, March 3, the union committee met with Prospect in order to avoid a strike, but the hedge fund was still unwilling to move on critical issues for patient safety.
"The union committee today made an attempt to avoid a strike but clearly Prospect/DCMH management was never interested an agreement. They are taking outrageously unreasonable positions on the remaining open issues and forcing the dedicated staff to reluctantly take this action in order to advocate for their patients and to ensure adequate staffing for the community," said Executive Director and chief negotiator Bill Cruice.
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. As a result, employees are leaving DCMH, creating a shortage of bedside nurses and technical employees. The National Labor Relations Board has already gone to complaint on charges that Prospect has illegally changed the staffing at DCMH.
"They're saying that they should decide the staffing without any input from those of us who actually take care of patients," said Angela Neopolitano, a 36-year veteran nurse and Broomall resident.
“I am striking to recreate the quality healthcare organization that has existed at Delaware County for the 26 years I’ve worked there,” said Tammy Christianson, a Haverford Township resident and nurse in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit. “It’s clear that Prospect is using us to squeeze as much money out of staff and patients as they can, with no concern for employees or the community.
“As an interventional radiology technologist who works hard every day to save the lives of people with cancer, it is critical we win a fair contract that protects my patients,” said Aileen Kelly of Ridley Township.
"Prospect should be investing in patient care, not wasting money on a troop of temporary, out-of-town nurses while we're outside," said Neopolitano. "This wouldn't be necessary if they would work with us to improve staffing and quality of care."
In addition to the lack of staff to care for the patients, nurses and technical employees are facing shortages of basic equipment necessary to provide quality patient care. Currently, patient call-bell systems are down on at least two patient units in the hospital and it will be several weeks before the system is repaired or replaced. Meanwhile, patients are forced to use old-fashioned bells to call for their nurses. This egregious lack of basic equipment leads to safety concerns for patients and staff.
Prospect will spend millions of dollars on contracted agency nurses and technical employees, funds which would be better spent on hiring more nurses and techs to ensure safe staffing and high quality patient care. The union representing the employees, the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, says Prospect has also engaged in unfair labor practices and has illegally withheld information during negotiations.
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.
Approximately 370 nurses and techs at Delaware County Memorial Hospital are represented by PASANP, the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses & Allied Professionals. The union 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