Temple ER asks for ambulance diversions

    As the nurses strike at Temple University Hospital enters its fourth week, union officials are monitoring ER operations and say there are signs that patient care is suffering.

    As the nurses strike at Temple University Hospital enters its fourth week, union officials are monitoring ER operations and say there are signs that patient care is suffering.
    (Photo: Flickr/chriswong4238)

    When all the beds are occupied and the waiting room is full, ER supervisors sometimes divert ambulances to other hospitals.

    The strike began three weeks ago. According to records from the Philadelphia Fire Department, Temple was at capacity for a total of 62 hours in the first 19 days of this month.

    Union president Patricia Eakin is a long-time ER nurse at Temple. She says the hospital’s replacement staff is struggling to keep up.

    Eakin: The fact that they had a workforce in there that was unfamiliar with the system and needed a lot of training to get started, to me, is an indication of why they needed to go on divert so much.

    Sandy Gomberg is the hospital’s CEO. She says diversion requests fluctuate dramatically, especially during cold and flu season.

    Gomberg says most of the April diversions occurred during a three day span when the ER was slammed with an unusual number of people.

    She says this month’s diversions had nothing to do with the ability of the temporary workers.

    The number of diversions during the strike is not far off from what Temple University Hospital experienced in March before the walkout.

    It’s been a week since hospital and union negotiators last met at the bargaining table.

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