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Nurses for ACMH make union switch

| Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Registered nurses employed with ACMH Hospital voted on Friday to leave one union in favor of joining another to better resolve staffing and patient care issues, nurse representatives said.

Bill Cruice, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, said that 265 nurses joined PASNAP last week after leaving the Pennsylvania State Education Association.

The election was conducted by the National Labor Relations Board.

Two ACMH nurses were quoted in a PASNAP news release issued on Friday:

“We are thrilled to be finally able to join with other staff nurses across the state in PASNAP,” said Lisa Mohney, a 2D nurse in ACMH. “The nurses here at the hospital have never been more unified and ready to push for improvements in staffing for our patients.”

“Conditions for nurses and our patients are growing more difficult every day,” said Carrie Adams, a nurse in the special procedures unit at ACMH. “To effectively advocate for our patients and our co-workers, nurses need a strong voice on the job and at the bargaining table with the Administration. Across the state, PASNAP members have won the improvements and respect that nurses deserve.”

On Monday, Dottie Guntrum, an ACMH Intensive Care Unit nurse and former treasurer of the local PSEA, said that the nurses made the switch to PASNAP because “as a group, we felt PSEA didn't understand health care issues.”

“Staffing grievances and patient care issues went unresolved,” Guntrum said.

According to Guntrum, the national regulatory staffing standard for the ICU patient-to-nurse ratio is 2-1.

But at ACMH that ratio is sometimes 3-1, Guntrum said, adding that those understaffing incidents seem to be happening more frequently.

“These are issues that, hopefully, we can have addressed (through PASNAP),” she said. “We do have some good quality, caring nurses at our hospital. Our patients are our neighbors, our family members and our friends. Our hope is they (PASNAP) will work with us to stay at that level.”

ACMH officials could not be reached for comment.

Cruice said that all full-time and regular part-time registered nurses who work for ACMH in the main hospital were eligible to vote in Friday's election. It excluded supervisory and management-level nurses as well as casual nurses who worked less than 52 total hours over the last calendar quarter (three months).

The release notes that ACMH nurses have been represented by PSEA and the American Federation of Teachers union since 1998. PASNAP represents more than 5,000 nurses across the state, including 350 members at Butler Memorial Hospital.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

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