Nurses at St. Christopher’s Hospital Demand Better Wages and Conditions

Nurses at St. Christopher’s Hospital in Philadelphia are on the picket line demanding better wages, benefits, and working conditions under the new union contract negotiations with Tower Health.

Key Takeaways:

  • St. Christopher’s Hospital nurses demand higher wages, better benefits, and safer staffing conditions.
  • The hospital, serving mostly low-income families with Medicaid, faces financial challenges under new management.
  • Union leaders emphasize the need for retention strategies, including educational opportunities and safety protections.

Nurses Form Picket Line for Better Wages & Conditions

On Monday, around 485 registered nurses from St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in North Philadelphia rallied outside the facility, pressing hospital management for improved wages, benefits, and staffing conditions.

They are currently negotiating a new union contract with Tower Health, which manages the hospital.

Uhura “Free” Russ, an emergency department nurse, emphasized the need for better support to enhance patient care.

We are giving good care, but we could give better care if the hospital supported us,” she stated.

Community Hospital in Need of Resources

The nurses, represented by St. Christopher’s Nurses United, part of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP), are advocating for resources to match the needs of the community they serve.

The hospital, which offers pediatric acute care in collaboration with Drexel University, sees about 82% of its patients covered by Medicaid, a public insurance program for low-income families.

Becky Murphy, an emergency department nurse and vice president of the union chapter, highlighted the importance of adequate hospital resources.

We are essentially a community hospital that the community needs and loves,” she said.

Murphy stressed the need for competitive wages to attract and retain staff, ensure patient safety, and prevent nurse burnout.

Emotional and Physical Demands of Pediatric Care

Amanda Gilson, a critical care nurse, explained the emotional challenges faced by those working in pediatric care.

We are not robots. Working in a pediatric hospital is not for the faint of heart,” she said. “It’s a place where emotions run high, where we confront both the joys and sorrows of childhood in their rawest forms.

Nurses also called for a comprehensive retention strategy that includes educational opportunities, safety protections, and benefits to encourage long-term employment.

Murphy emphasized the value of experienced nurses, saying, “When a nurse with experience walks out the door, you’ll never replace them. You cannot replace expertise and experience. It is a learned thing.

Contract Talks & Financial Issues at St. Christopher’s Hospital

The previous contract expired on January 31, and union leaders accuse Tower Health of being unwilling to compromise, although they are reportedly close to reaching an agreement.

Tower Health officials stated that they are negotiating in good faith, with a primary commitment to the well-being of patients and staff.

St. Christopher’s Hospital, acquired by Tower Health and Drexel University out of bankruptcy in 2019, continues to face financial challenges under the new ownership.

As negotiations continue, nurses remain hopeful for a contract that better supports their needs and enhances patient care.