Philly Dems rally with nurses for “safe staffing”

Philly Dems rally with nurses for “safe staffing”

Author: Marco Cerino/Thursday, January 3, 2019/Categories: Philadelphia

On Thursday, outside of two major Philadelphia hospitals, nurses protested working conditions and asked for a new contract from their new owners. Local politicians joined the nurses in support. 

Nurses called for “safe staffing” at St. Christopher and Hahnemann hospitals during afternoon picketing. They claim those on-site often deal with too many patients at once, which weakens the ability to provide care and support for patients. Led by the Pennsylvania Association of Support Nurses and Professionals, two picket lines occurred to rally support and demand change from American Academic Health Services (AAHS), the California-based firm that bought the two from Tenet in 2017.

Susan Bose, a veteran nurse at Hahnemann and part of the bargaining committee, cited that AAHS has helped improve some conditions at the Center City location. However, in terms of providing enough staffing to handle patients, the two sides are “still very far apart on” bargaining that began in August.

“Our bedside nurses are consistently overloaded with too many patients,” Bose said. “It leads to mistakes and patients not receiving the care they need and deserve.”

Joining the picketers were Mayor Jim Kenney (D), Councilman Mark Squilla (D-District 1), state representatives Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) and newly elected Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia), along with state senators Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia) and Christine Tartaglione (D-Philadelphia). They cited personal and familial ties to Hahnemann. Kenney mentioned he’s had two surgeries at the hospital in the last 10 years.

“I am so sorry that you have to be here right now,” said Sims, who serves on the hospital’s governing board. “Nobody should be out here protesting for safe staffing levels, and yet here you are, because the administration of this hospital has told you that your salaries need to be put up against safe staffing levels and that’s wrong and we know it.”

Tartaglione promised to use her leadership as chair of the Philadelphia delegation, along with chairing the Labor and Industry Committee and as a member of the Banking and Insurance Committee, to help the negotiations. She noted that AAHS CEO Joel Freedman came to her seeking an $8 million loan to help with the transition after the purchase. 

“The hospitals always come to Harrisburg asking for money,” she said as the picketing continued. “They’re going to have to listen because we’re not going to be there for them if they’re not there for those nurses.” 

Tartaglione wants to work with the Pennsylvania Hospital Association, which helps determine funding at year’s end. She also chastised the bargaining tactics that forced nurses to choose between salary increases and staffing levels. 

Marco Cerino a staff writer for The PLS Reporter based in Philadelphia. Have a question, comment or tip? Email him at