Virtua Profile: Corry Van Elsland - Health Professionals & Allied Employees

Virtua Profile: Corry Van Elsland

I have been in emergency medical services for 16 years, including the last 13 years as a paramedic at Virtua. Simply put, I love to help. I want to make things better, I want to right the wrong, I want to heal the sick and I want to make calm out of chaos. Most of all, I want to be the “sigh of relief” that someone has when they see help arriving for them.

I live in a very lively house with my wife and four children, ages 16, 6, 4, and 2, plus one very overly affectionate dog. I enjoy spending time with my family, my friends and being able to bring smiles to people’s faces whenever I can. I love to tinker with things in the house much to my wife’s dismay (think Tim Allen from Home Improvement) and am always looking for something to do.

Why organize?

I want to be able to go to work and not fear reprisal, bias, or retaliation for speaking out what we feel is something that needs to be addressed. I also want to have a seat at the table and a say in how we move forward not only as a department but as a profession as well. Right now, we don’t have any of that. Management hands out disciplinary actions inconsistently, with arbitrary and unfair punishment.

Why should Burlington and Camden counties care about you organizing?

We are the medical professionals who bring the Emergency Room to you on the worst day of your life. Our responsibility is to make sure you stay alive until we can get you to the hospital. Unfortunately, our employer does not treat us like the professionals we are. We have no say in the destiny of our future and are often forgotten about by the rest of the hospital system when decisions or changers are made. We are taken advantage of, forced to work an increasing workload with equipment that has needed replacement for quite some time, and treated as if we are dispensable and replaceable.

What would you accomplish by organizing?

Mutual respect and understanding. A better working relationship with Virtua Health. We want Virtua to understand that we are people, we are professional medical providers and we deserve to be treated as such. We want to be able to say “No” to unreasonable requests and/or expectations with the understanding if we are to go above and beyond what is expected, we are recognized and compensated fairly for that.

What would being respected on the job look like?

Being allowed to use the facilities without pressure to clear for another call, being able to have a specific time when we are allowed to eat without worrying that we are going to be interrupted. Being afforded time to chart our calls, but if we don’t, don’t expect us to stay for potentially hours after the end of our shift just to finish them. Basically, being treated like a human being as opposed to being treated like a number on a screen. Also, recognize the immense initial training and education we must go through as well as continuing education we need to obtain after we’ve started working by compensating us more fairly for the critical life and death decisions we need to make every single day.