Pennsylvania nurses strike, cite staffing concerns at Wilkes-Barre General

Registered nurses at Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) General Hospital went on strike May 31, primarily over staffing, reports The Citizens' Voice.

The striking nurses, represented by the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, claim the facility, including the emergency room, is short-staffed.

"We're walking today for our patients," said Ashley Weale, RN, and the local union vice president, according to the report. "We believe that our patients deserve to have a nurse at their bedside when they're at their most vulnerable and need us most. It's unacceptable to us as nurses that our patients face delays in care because the hospital is understaffed. Staffing needs to focus on meeting the needs of patients, not simply increasing profits."

Nurses also complained about mandatory overtime, reports The Citizens' Voice. In March, the union claimed Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry found the hospital and its owner, Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems, illegally forced nurses to work overtime to address staffing vacancies.

A spokesperson for Wilkes-Barre General told Becker's Hospital Review at that time: "The matter is far from complete," and the hospital is "confident the thorough documentation we provided proves the hospital's compliance with the law regarding mandatory overtime."

The hospital did not address staffing or overtime issues in a recent statement to Becker's Hospital Review , but did confirm that temporary replacement nurses were brought in to staff the facility during the strike.

"Wilkes-Barre General Hospital continues to focus on providing safe, quality care and the best possible experience for our patients," the statement reads. "We continue to provide quality care for our patients today. Teams of highly qualified, experienced, temporary replacement nurses are working to ensure uninterrupted care for patients. All inpatient, outpatient and emergency services are available, and surgeries and diagnostic procedures are occurring as scheduled."

The strike is scheduled to end at 7 a.m. June 1. 


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