Temple U. Hospital brings in temporary staffers

    Providing stopgap workers is a big business.

    Nurses are still on strike at Temple University Hospital. You might be wondering: Who wins when staffers join the picket line and a hospital brings in replacements?

    Employment experts say usually there are no winners. Peter Cappelli is a management professor at The Wharton School.

    He says striking workers take a financial gamble to win a better contract, while managers can exhaust themselves trying to take on extra work and supervising duties.

    Cappelli: You can think about these sorts of strikes as being the equivalent of each side hitting themselves in the head with a hammer. And the question is who can stand up the longest to the pounding. It’s not something that does either side any good. So there’s a big incentive for both sides to get this over with quick.

    Cappelli says despite the nation’s nursing shortage there’s a thriving industry that provides just-in-time workers, and often pays them 50 percent more than regular nurses.

    Peter Cappelli says it will take some time for the new hires to find a niche in the team.

    Cappelli: I personally wouldn’t schedule any surgery in this period because we know it’s not necessarily just the surgeon, it’s the whole surgeon’s team that affects the quality of the outcomes. I’d say if I had anything elective I’d put it off until this is over.

    Temple’s CEO says all of the temporary workers have qualifications equal to the hospital’s regular staff. Many of the replacements were hired through HealthSource Global Staffing. The California agency earned a gold-seal of approval from the Joint Commission, which accredits hospitals and health care staffing agencies.

    Karen Kulp is the president of Homecare Associates in Philadelphia, she says finding good replacements is critical.

    Kulp: You know, I guess one problem that you might have is that there is a shortage of workers, so you have just make sure that the people that you are bringing in have the right credentials and experience.

    Kulp’s staffing agency is not providing temporary workers to Temple, and Kulp says she’d feel uncomfortable staffing a work stoppage. Still Kulp says good workers can contribute quickly.

    Note: A recent WHYY report on the Temple University Hospital strike quoted a person who gave her name as Stephanie Jones, and claimed to be a hospital employee as she criticized conditions there. A hospital spokeswoman says no one by the name is on the hospital’s payroll.

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