Nurses strike multibillion hedge fund, defend patient care

Upper Darby, Pa. – A couple hundred community, political and labor activists rallied and marched on March 5 in support of 370 registered nurses and technical employees on the first day of a strike at Delaware County Memorial Hospital in the suburban Philadelphia town of Upper Darby. The workers are represented by the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals.

On the Facebook event page for the rally, the union gives some corporate background: “Prospect Medical Holdings’ facilities across the country have come under critical scrutiny. Some of their hospitals have the worst possible patient satisfaction scores and are among the worst ranked in the nation. The company is under investigation by the IRS and the state of California and, despite operating hospitals in Delaware County, the hedge fund is registered in the state of Delaware and does not pay Pennsylvania corporation taxes.” The company is a subsidiary of the multibillion-dollar hedge fund Leonard Green & Partners. (tinyurl.com/hrhtzgj)

The PASNAP union explains why all working people should support the strike: “The hospital’s new owner, a for-profit, multibillion-dollar hedge fund, has refused to negotiate seriously over staffing and patient safety. … For patients, our community and families, we must win a fair contract that ensures safety for the Delaware County community!

“DCMH is owned by Prospect Medical Holdings Inc., a subsidiary of the multibillion-dollar hedge fund Leonard Green & Partners. After months of contract negotiations, the hedge fund owners won’t agree to critical patient safety issues. Nursing and technical staff deserve working and patient care conditions that prioritize high-quality health care.

“Prospect has failed to live up to its promise to be a good community partner by investing $200 million in the hospital system to improve services,” the union says. Instead, it notes: “This has resulted in an increased number of patients per individual employee, creating unsafe conditions for patients and staff alike. As a result, employees are leaving DCMH and staff are facing a shortage of basic equipment necessary to provide patient care. Currently, patient call-bell systems are broken and not functioning on at least two nursing units in the hospital. Prospect says it will be several weeks before the call-bell system is repaired or replaced. Meanwhile, patients are forced to use old-fashioned bells to call for their nurses, leading to great frustration for both patients and staff.

“In addition to differences concerning staffing, patient safety and the cost of health insurance, the union has brought charges against Prospect at the National Labor Relations Board because of their refusal to provide information, [their] illegal changes to employee health insurance rates, decreased number of staff at the hospital and other unilateral changes.”