Virtua Nurses Ratify 3 Year Contract with Patient Protection Measures

For Immediate Release – Friday, June 6, 2014

Union Nurses voted in favor of a new 3 year contract for the 800 Registered Nurses represented by the Health Professionals and Allied Employees, (HPAE) AFT/AFL-CIO at Virtua – Memorial Hospital of Burlington County

After several weeks of negotiations, both parties came to an agreement a day before the contract was scheduled to expire on May 31. Members voted throughout the day on Thursday, with a final count after voting was closed at 9pm.

“Nurses are facing new challenges as health care is rapidly changing, and our first priority remains the same providing safe patient care. “This contract is a commitment for both Nurses and the hospital to ensure safe staffing and patient safety throughout our hospital. As we advocate for safe staffing in Trenton we will continue to monitor staffing levels within our own hospital,” said Debbie White, president of the HPAE local.

HPAE, the statewide union representing 12,000 nurses and health care workers, has been advocating for state legislation and hospital contracts that establish safe minimum staffing levels in every hospital in New Jersey. Numerous studies over the past decade have demonstrated the direct link between setting limits on the number of patients assigned to each nurse and patient satisfaction, outcomes, complications and re-admission rates.

The nurses’ contract also includes wage increases of 7.5 to 12% over the 3 years and additional support for continuing education and nursing certification programs promoting professional development for the nursing staff.

According to the union, Virtua is investing in transforming and expanding their physical infrastructure, most recently with an announcement to reduce inpatient services while expanding outpatient and long term care services at the Berlin location. Also, earlier this year Virtua purchased a 100-acre property formerly a family farm in the Mount Holly area which they intend to build a new hospital in three years.

“At a time when Virtua is investing in expanding it was critical for us as professional nurses to encourage Virtua to invest in safe staffing, and in fair wages, to retain and recruit the most experienced nursing staff. We believe this contract will protect our ability to provide quality care in a safe environment,” added White.

For more information contact: Bridget Devane, 732-996-5493