Pennsylvania nurses plan to go on strike as coronavirus surges

At least 1,500 nurses at two hospitals in the Philadelphia area are planning to go on strike as COVID-19 cases increase in Pennsylvania and across the country.

Nurses at Einstein Medical Center and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children have not reached an agreement on contracts with their parent health groups, the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP) confirmed to The Hill on Friday.

The nurses at the hospitals, which include approximately 1,000 nurses at Einstein Medical Center and 500 health care workers at St. Christopher’s Hospital, have voted to authorize a strike over the contracts, although they have not yet issued a strike notice. 

The health care workers are seeking to strike because they have been “pushed to the brink by unsafe staffing that undermines patient safety,” according to a statement from PASNAP. The statement also said they would strike “to protect their patients and themselves.”

Maria Plano, a registered nurse at St. Christopher’s and the vice president of the hospital’s Nurses United union, told CNN that Tower Health, which owns the hospital alongside Drexel University College of Medicine, has reduced the staff that need to be available for patients who are children, as well as other closures. 

“If 500 nurses are coming to you to tell you what to do, you should believe your nurses,” she told the outlet.

Approximately 800 nurses at St. Mary Medical Center in Bucks County also gave a strike notice last week, saying they will begin a two-day strike on Nov. 17 without a new contract deal with the hospital’s owner, Trinity Health Systems.

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Nurses at a fourth Pennsylvania hospital, Mercy Fitzgerald in Delaware County, reached a contract agreement on Tuesday.

COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania have continued to increase throughout the fall, with the state reporting 6,023 cases on Thursday alone. In total, the state has reported over 254,000 COVID-19 cases and 9,272 fatalities.

–Updated at 10:40 a.m.

Tags coronavirus pandemic COVID-19 labor union nurses Pennsylvania strike

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