After months of negotiations, about 1,400 nurses and health care professionals scored new contracts with the Crozer Health System in Delaware County.
“When you work as hard as we’ve all been working through COVID, it’s nice to be recognized,” said Angela Neopolitano, an emergency department nurse at the Delaware County Memorial Hospital in Drexel Hill and president of DCMH Nurses and Techs United.
Since February, eight Delco union locals of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals worked to get new contracts for their members at Delaware County Memorial, Crozer-Chester Medical Center, Springfield Hospital, and Rejuvenations at Fair Acres. PASNAP represents more than 8,500 nurses and health care professionals across Pennsylvania.
“We had a good fight, and I think that they were really willing, especially because of the pandemic, to see to it that the nurses got what they deserved and especially what we needed to give good patient care. I think the most important thing is that with this contract we are now going to be able to give our patients the best quality care that we’ve ever been able to give at Crozer,” said Peggy Malone, a nurse at Crozer-Chester Medical Center and vice president of Crozer-Chester Nurses Association.
Crozer Health System did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the deals ratified in late December.
The 530 nurses at Crozer-Chester Medical Center were able to secure a three-year deal that includes health care premium decreases, a single wage scale, pay increases, and a program that will allow for the hiring of weekend-only positions to prevent “staff burnout.”
But most importantly, according to Malone, the new contract includes staffing grids. She called them “the thing we worked the hardest on.”
Staffing grids essentially dictate how many patients a single nurse can take care of. That number varies from department to department. For example, an emergency room nurse may have a 2-1 patient-to-nurse workload.
The 400 nurses and technical workers at Delaware County Memorial Hospital were also to get staffing grids.
“Obviously, anybody knows the more patients a nurse has, the less that they can do for each patient, and we want to do the most we can for our patients to help them to recover,” Neopolitano said.
The four-year contract the Delaware County Memorial Hospital nurses and technical workers agreed to was very similar to the Crozer-Chester contract. A new scale will increase wages by at least 13% for all employees there.
“With our pay scale, by the end of our four-year contract, we will be the highest-paid nurses in Pennsylvania, so that is a good recruitment tool,” Neopolitano said.
With many hospitals experiencing staffing shortages during the pandemic, the nurses hope the new contract will be a lure for much needed help.
“We want to try to recruit nurses from other areas with the staffing grid, and with the pay scale, we should be able to do that,” Neopolitano said.
The other Delco PASNAP unions, such as the Crozer-Chester Paramedics Association, Crozer-Chester Society of Pharmacists, Rejuvenations at Fair Acres, and the Crozer-Chester Association of Medical Professionals, secured brand new benefits with their three-year contracts, which also included lower health care costs, a new wage scale, and pay increases.
Springfield Nurses United, at Springfield Hospital, got a 1-year contract with a pay increase.
The Philadelphia region is seeing its fair share of new nurses contracts, as strikes were threatened at several hospitals in 2020 over staffing ratios and wages.
“Nurses and health care professionals have worked tirelessly and selflessly sacrificed during the COVID-19 pandemic at great personal risk to themselves, and they will continue to be called on to do so for months to come,” said PASNAP president Maureen May in a statement. “With the positive resolution of these contract fights as the virus surge continues in our area, the needs of our dedicated frontline workers have been acknowledged and respected and their patient communities are further protected. We are thrilled.”
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