Nurses strike at Temple

    Temple University Hospital says it will remain open, even if nurses strike. The nurses union says it will rally in front of the hospital on North Broad at noon.

    Temple University Hospital says it will remain open, even if nurses strike. The nurses union says it will rally in front of the hospital on North Broad at noon.

    Sandy Gomberg is CEO of the hospital. She says Temple will continue to provide all levels of care and there should be no need to divert patients to area hospitals.

    Temple has hired about 800 temporary workers. Gomberg says they are ready to work.

    Gomberg: We have internally reviewed all of their credentials, validated their licenses and made sure we have provided a full and complete orientation to the hospital. The temporary workers meet or exceed the employment standards that we have for any employee here.

    The union rejected the hospital’s latest contract offer late Monday night. The union’s executive director says the contract would have restricted nurses from speaking out against the hospital and could have doubled some out-of-pocket health expenses for workers.

    Bill Cruice is executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals union, which represents 1,500 nurses and other health workers. He says the union notified Temple about the strike more than 10 days ago to give the hospital time to prepare.

    Cruice: What the law intended was for Temple to downsize its patient base and to stop elective surgeries, but instead of doing that they have chosen to import strike breakers from every corner of the country to attempt to maintain a full operation.

    Union nurses have been working under an expired contract for six months. Both the union and hospital say health benefits are a major sticking point in the negotiations.

    RN Amy Soltis says she’s concerned about patient safety. She says she could better care for patients if she had fewer people to treat at once.

    Soltis: The last thing that myself or my co-workers would ever want to do is leave patients in the lurch, we are doing this so that we can ultimately can give them the best care that they deserve. This isn’t about wages, our main concern is the staffing issues, the health insurance and the gag clause.

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