Tentative deal averts protest by Delaware County Memorial Hospital nurses, staff

     This file photo shows the picket line of nurses, staff, and supporters during a two-day action back in March at the Delaware County Memorial Hospital (PASNAP)

    This file photo shows the picket line of nurses, staff, and supporters during a two-day action back in March at the Delaware County Memorial Hospital (PASNAP)

    Nursing and support staff at Delaware County Memorial Hospital called off a protest Wednesday morning, after reaching a tentative agreement with management late Tuesday night.

    Negotiations have been underway for nine months, according to union staff, and turned largely around staffing concerns.

    The 370 nurses and support staff at the Drexel Hill hospital went on strike last month, saying Prospect Medical Holdings, Inc., the hospital’s privately held parent company, “steadfastly refused to talk about guaranteed patient safety through safe staffing practices.”

    In a statement released at the time, Prospect communications staff said that staffing levels are on par with national averages.

    A little after midnight Tuesday, the negotiating committee arrived at a tentative agreement, hours before several unions had planned a protest outside of a national “Conscious Capitalism” conference in Philadelphia, hosted by the private equity firm that owns Prospect.

    Details of the contract will not be released until the members have a chance to vote on it, but Bill Cruices, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses & Allied Professionals, said the agreement contains a process for staff to raise concerns about patient care related to staffing levels.

    “Winning this contract is a big step forward in giving the nurses and the techs an ability to articulate their interests and the interests of the patients,” said Cruices. However, staffing concerns are “going to be an ongoing contested terrain in the workplace here.”

    A spokesman for Prospect did not immediately grant requests for comment.

    Members will vote Thursday on the tentative three-year agreement, which has been unanimously recommended by the negotiation committee. In January 2016, Prospect Medical Holdings, Inc., which is owned by $74 billion private equity group Leonard Green & Partners, bought the Crozer-Keystone Health System, encompassing four area hospitals.

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