Overworked healthcare workers are demanding safe staffing levels and incentives so they can provide safe bedside care
Today, nurses HPAE Local 5138 at Southern Ocean Medical Center held an informational picket outside of the hospital. After months of bargaining with Hackensack Meridian Health executives, nurses brought their message to the public’s attention as they continue to bargain for a contract that helps to recruit and retain nursing staff during a state-wide staffing crisis in hospitals.
“Healthcare workers put themselves at risk and sacrificed their own well-being during the pandemic,” Debbie White, HPAE President said. “But it was not the pandemic that caused such a tremendous migration out of the profession; rather a chronic understaffing by the hospitals themselves, in order to cut costs and maximize profits. Now we have a retention problem. Nurses simply will not remain in an untenable work environment, so they continue to leave the hospitals. When there are not enough nurses at the bedside, patients suffer. One would think this employer would want to do what is in the best interest of patients.”
Nurses who walked on the informational picket line raised concerns over unsafe staffing levels in the hospital which put patients at risk, an increasing number of violent incidents impacting staff as well as health and safety conditions that have resulted in injuries for workers.
“It is unfortunate that hospital executives have a greater concern for their profits than creating a working environment that will stop the exodus of nursing staff. Having more staff keeps patients safe and will help recruit and retain nurses. The hospital has failed us and now we need the public’s support so our contract gives nurses the protections and incentives they need to keep patients safe,” Anna Pona, RN, HPAE Local 5138 President at HMH Southern Ocean Medical Center.