Hundreds of nurses have gone on strike at a suburban Philadelphia hospital, citing low staffing levels amid rising coronavirus cases.
The walkout that began at 7 a.m. Tuesday involves the 700-plus registered nurses at St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne and their allies in the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, the union they joined last fall.
The nurses said the main issue is low staffing due to low wages, and they fear the situation will only grow more dire as COVID-19 hospitalizations rise this winter.
“Nurses are literally fleeing to other hospitals 20 minutes away where they can make $6 to $7 more an hour,” nurse Kathy McKamey, who’s worked at St. Mary for 10 years, told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Trinity Health, the Catholic health system that owns St. Mary, said in a statement that it will hire “qualified, professional agency nurses” during the strike so that the hospital can remain open.
Officials said the union rejected a compensation offer that it called “very competitive for nurses working in Bucks County” while also taking into account the financial impact of the pandemic. They criticized the nurses for striking “when the country and our local community contend with a COVID-19 surge."