Jersey Shore University Medical Center’s Registered Nurses (RNs), members of HPAE Local 5058, have been at the forefront of the war against the coronavirus pandemic since it was barely a rumored overseas outbreak. The sickest members of our community filled our hospital seeking relief from a terrifying infectious disease unlike any the world has ever seen. Heroically, these frontline healthcare workers have sacrificed, suffered, and persevered while treating patients sick from COVID-19. They have borne the brunt of the challenges of fighting this global pandemic while working for Hackensack Meridian Health (HMH), a hospital corporation that grew even wealthier during this pandemic, seemingly at the expense of its valiant workers.
Under these incredibly stressful conditions, the nurses have also had to fight their employer for workplace protections including much-needed personal protective equipment, such as respirators, and training on how to don and doff protective equipment. The hospital was at one time inundated1 with fake respirators.
Working conditions at Jersey Shore University Medical Center during the pandemic led to many nurses leaving the hospital, exacerbating a staffing shortage across the hospital that has now grown into a full-blown crisis. Nurses raised concerns about this mass exodus with management only to find management impervious to their concerns.3 So, the JSUMC nurses conducted a survey of their members.
Surveyed nurses talked about a workplace and a community they love – Jersey Shore University Medical Center – and desperately wanting to see their hospital thrive. Yet they are heartbroken watching an employer that is seemingly intent on degrading a community resource just to save on some of the costs of workplace protections that the workers fought for and won over decades. They are just as concerned that this employer seems more intent on maintaining an adversarial relationship with their unionized nurses than taking concerns to heart.
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