Virtua Profile: Francis Pagurek - Health Professionals & Allied Employees

Virtua Profile: Francis Pagurek

I have been in emergency medical services for 44 years, including 41 years as a paramedic. I have been with Virtua for 33 years. Once, when my father suffered cardiac arrest, I performed CPR on him before police and ambulance arrived. I had learned CPR and First Aid in the Sea Scouts, a Boy Scout Youth Program.

Emergency Medical Services is my Career, my life and my hobby. I have served people in Bayonne, Montclair, Jersey City, Newark, Camden, Gloucester Township, Burlington, and Camden County. I have managed three different EMS Organization for over 32 years over my career. I have also been a strong EMS Advocate, fighting for recognition and parity with police officers and firefighters, and to improve EMS Service delivery to the communities I have served and I’m serving.

Why organize?

I am organizing because “there is strength in numbers”. We all have choices in life. We can elect to drive the bus and decide where it goes; be on the bus and have a say where it goes and how it gets there; stand on the sidewalk and watch the bus go by with no knowledge of where the bus goes; or how and when it gets to its destination; or stand in the way and let the bus run us over. Personal, I want to know where the bus is going, have a say in where it goes and how it gets there. Organizing ourselves into a union will help us achieve this goal.

I am not happy with the changes that I am seeing at Virtua, especially the lack of communication, transparency, or concern or consideration for the staff. Morale is at the lowest point I have seen in my tenure. By uniting as one collective voice, we can make positive changes to improve our workplace and to make Virtua the industry leader again.

Why should Burlington and Camden counties care about you organizing?

We want to ensure that Virtua meets and exceeds the current and future needs of our communities. By having a strong collective voice, we’ll ensure we have the best training and equipment available to deliver quality and safe services to the community

What would being respected on the job look like?

Job Respect would when management considers, recognizes and acknowledges the impacts of their decisions on the staff and the communities we serve. They would respect us for our job, the good things we do every day, rather dwelling on mistakes. Job Respect would be for the employer to respect me, Fran Pagurek, as a living, breathing human being. We are people. We are not disposable. We are not simply an employee filling a position.