Tuesday, April 06, 2010


Is Temple University Hospital administration putting patients at risk? Striking nurses think the answer just may be "yes" and they want credentials of replacements checked out now.

Meanwhile, an interesting aspect of the strike is developed in a story by Monica Yant Kinney of the Philadelphia Inquirer who reports, "......the eye-gouging cost of college as a big reason they (nurses) dared to strike in the worst economy since the Depression."


For 25 years, Temple used tuition reimbursement to recruit and retain highly trained staff including nurses and other hospital workers. Now the University wants out of the university business. She writes, "...management abruptly canceled tuition reimbursement for dependents in March 2009 in the middle of the Pennsylvania Association for Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals' contract... Especially galling is the suggestion that hospital workers don't deserve what Temple professors and secretaries take for granted. 'It doesn't make sense," grouses Bill Cruice, Pennsylvania Association for Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals' director. "So
a library clerk can have this benefit, but someone extricating knives from the guts of patients in the ER shouldn't get it?'

Tom Geiger is the single father of two teenage daughters and a
respiratory therapist who came to Temple 10 years ago because of the
tuition reimbursement. Geiger, already struggling to support his girls, never dreamed he'd
gamble his tenuous financial stability by going on strike. "But if you
don't stand up for something," he figures, "you can lose everything."
And if a hardworking father can't afford to send his daughters to
college, at least he can teach them about valuing your job enough to
risk losing it."

The following is from Philly.com.

Striking Temple nurses question fill-ins' credentials
By Linda Loyd
Inquirer Staff Writer

Striking registered nurses and health professionals on Friday called on Temple University Hospital to document credentials of the 850 temporary workers recruited to tend to patients since the walkout began Wednesday.

(Below:Striking nurses Moon Chang (left) and Debora Harris help 
a man who collapsed on the sidewalk outside the hospital.) 
MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer
The union said it had received "dozens of reports" of "problems with patient care," Maureen May, president of the Temple Nurses Union, said at a briefing outside the hospital on North Broad Street.

"We want the Department of Health to investigate," said Patricia Eakin, registered nurse in Temple Hospital's emergency room and statewide president of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals union, PASNAP.

Later, Sandy Gomberg, Temple's chief executive officer, said that the hospital's 400 doctors and 3,000 nonstriking employees were caring for patients as always and that the union was attempting to "frighten" the public and distract the focus from the "real issues" of wages and benefits.

The union said hospital conditions posed a risk to patients, with reports of replacement nurses in some intensive-care units working 20-hour shifts, as well as delays in getting X-rays and lab reports.

Gomberg said Temple sent letters to all striking workers Wednesday inviting them to return to work under the university's latest offer. "A number of employees have chosen to come back to work," she said.

The hospital "continues to be very busy, and we continue to provide the same high-quality care," Gomberg said. "The hospital is fully open across all clinical services. We've reduced no services and closed no departments."

No negotiations have been scheduled by the state mediator.

"We urge Temple to transfer out all unstable patients and enable doctors to temporarily receive privileges to care for patients in other hospitals," said union president May, noting that Temple registered nurses were available to help, in "a genuine patient emergency," to stabilize patients.

PASNAP executive director Bill Cruice said replacement nurses in the respiratory intensive-care unit were working 20-hour shifts, with a nurse-to-patient ratio of one nurse for four patients, when the norm is one nurse for two patients.

"The emergency room has been on divert more in the last two days than it's typically on divert in two months," Cruice said.

Executive Chief Daniel Williams of the Philadelphia Fire Department said patients were diverted from Temple's emergency room Wednesday from 7 a.m., when the strike, began until 9 a.m., and again from 10:28 p.m. Thursday to 2:28 a.m. Friday.

The union wants Temple to document compliance with state laws and to verify that replacement workers are licensed with valid credentials. PASNAP contends the agency doing most of the strike hiring, HealthSource Global Staffing, of California, had submitted false payroll reports and failed to pay insurance premiums owed to a state compensation insurance fund, according to a complaint filed in the Superior Court of California in San Francisco.

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