New Item: Temple University Hospital nurses to picket over understaffing amid contract negotiations – The Philadelphia Inquirer

More than 2,000 health care workers plan to picket Friday at Temple University Hospital to draw attention to working conditions there amid contract negotiations.

The existing contract, in effect for three years, expires Sept. 30. Union representatives are seeking more money for worker retention and hiring at the hospital, which they say has been understaffed for years. Workers are also concerned about insufficient staffing, workplace safety and caregiver resources.

“The turnover rate for nurses here is staggering,” said ICU nurse Mary Adamson, president of the Temple University Hospital Nurses Association (TUHNA), in a statement. “We are still short-staffed every day and every night.”

Temple was especially inundated during the COVID-19 pandemic, when sick patients filled the emergency department, spare surgery units, a gymnasium and a converted outpatient pavilion. The burden of treating hundreds of patients with limited resources was hard on nurses, who are often the most frequent contact with hospital patients. Burnout, retirements and career changes left those who remained with even more work.

Over the past three years, the ratio of nurses to patients at Temple Hospital has declined by 15%, according to the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses & Allied Professionals.

The hospital has not dedicated enough money to retaining workers, union representatives said.

A spokesperson at Temple did not respond to a request for comment.

Health care workers are also concerned about workplace violence and insufficient resources for caregivers, said TUHNA and Temple Allied Professionals, who collectively represent about 2,250 registered nurses and technicians.

» READ MORE: Violence against health-care workers was rising. Then the pandemic hit, and made things worse.

In 2021, a Jefferson University Hospital nursing assistant was shot at work, and Temple nurses worry that a similar incident could happen to them.

Health-care providers are among the most likely in the nation to be victims of workplace violence, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The organization reported that from 2002 to 2013, incidents requiring an injured person to miss work to recover were four times more likely in health-care settings than the average of other private industries.

Source: Ross Arrowsmith