Union RNs in Salem County applaud National Union’s launch of new website exposing CHS’ misplaced priorities
Health Professionals and Allied Employees
110 Kinderkamack Road
Emerson, NJ 07630
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Registered Nurses at Memorial Hospital of Salem County (MHSC) applaud the launch of a website (www.chswatch.org) in coordination with a national day of action on March 19th targeting Community Health Systems (CHS), the company which owns and operates MHSC. Unions across the country will be holding actions to demand CHS bargain with their health care workers.
“We are excited about the launch of the new website CHSwatch.org as it shows that nurses from across the country working at CHS owned facilities are facing many of the same issues of CHS putting profits before patients,” said Lorie Halter, RN. “This is the first time that nurses from across the country at different CHS hospitals have united to protect not only their rights, but also the rights of their patients,” added Halter.
MHSC RNs voted to join the Health Professionals and Allied Employees over two and a half years ago but Community Health Systems refuses to recognize the Nurses union and bargain a contract.
“When Nurses have a voice at the bargaining table, it translates in to better patient care,” said Ann Twomey, RN, President, HPAE. “Our union rights allow us to advocate for patient and worker safety and to demand that our hospitals adhere to quality standards and rules,” added Twomey.
Many Nurses at MHSC live and work in Salem County, and are caring for family members and neighbors. The primary interest of the nurses is to ensure their patients have access to quality health care. In 2002 when CHS purchased MHSC, they promised to improve quality of care similar to the promises they make to every community whose hospital they purchase.
Data released by the federal government through Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), indicates high readmission rates for a majority of CHS hospitals. Specifically, 119 out of 135 (88 percent) of CHS hospitals will be penalized in 2013 for high readmission rates, including MHSC which was penalized 1%.
In addition to Medicare penalties, MHSC RNs have pointed to patient care dollars which have been spent on attorneys fees to challenge the Nurses right to bargain a contract with their employer.
“CHS has a history of ignoring national labor laws and refusing to bargain with nurses, spending exorbitant amounts of money on lawyers and legal battles to try to block unions in their facilities. Its time they stopped ignoring their worker's rights and start negotiating contracts,” said Halter.
HPAE RNs at MHSC are gathering signatures on a petition in support of their colleagues at CHS facilities involved in Day of Action activities to show solidarity for those in contract disputes. The Nurses will continue to collaborate with other Nurses and Health care workers in CHS hospitals across the country as they join together in demanding CHS respect the voices of their union workers and their health care professionals.
HPAE is a healthcare union representing 12,000 Nurses and health care professionals throughout New Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania and is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.
 Kaisser Health News, “Medicare Revises Medicare Readmission Penalties, Again,” dated March 14, 2013. http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2013/March/14/revised-readmissions-statistics-hospitals-medicare.aspx?utm_source=khn&utm_medium=internal&utm_campaign=viewed