Nurses at Armstrong County Memorial Hospital on strike

KITANNING, Pa. — Nurses at Armstrong County Memorial Hospital are picketing.

They’re holding signs that say “safe staffing saves lives.” And that’s their main issue — critical staffing shortages. The nurses say more than 40 nurses have left ACMH Hospital in the last year.

PHOTOS: Nurses at Armstrong County Memorial Hospital go on strike

They are leaving because “they are burned out from short staffing, underappreciated, and undervalued,” a spokesperson for Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals said.

The nurses’ message to the hospital and the public is that they’ve had enough.

The 220 nurses at ACMH Hospital have been in contract negotiations since July 2021, according to a release from the PASNAP.

ACMH Hospital released the following statement Sunday afternoon:

ACMH and the Union representing the registered nurses have been bargaining for six months over a successor labor agreement. While the parties have reached agreement on many issues, the negotiations have not been completed, and the nurses have decided to conduct a strike beginning today through Thursday of this week.

Unfortunately, the Union continues to make misstatements about the Hospital and about these negotiations and, therefore, we are compelled to clear up these inaccuracies.

First, and most important, patient care is not being compromised at ACMH in any way. The Hospital and the nurses’ union have had patient-nurse staffing guidelines in the labor agreement for a number of years. ACMH frequently operates with staffing in excess of these guidelines. Additionally, the Union did not propose any changes to the staffing guidelines during the negotiations. Nationally, and similar to most Pennsylvania hospitals, ACMH has nursing vacancies and to ensure that our patients are given quality care we have done what many hospitals are being forced to do, and that is to utilize nursing staffing agencies.

As for compensation, ACMH recognized the importance of recruiting and over four months ago presented the most lucrative and aggressive wage proposal in its history. The increase in wages in the first year of the contract range from 7% to 12% depending on years of experience, followed by a 4.5% increase in the second and third years. There are also increases to a number of premium pays in the compensation proposal.

Finally, the Union is repeatedly misstating the claim that John Lewis, the President and CEO of ACMH, received a wage increase of $600,000. This is simply false.”

No contract negotiations are scheduled. The strike will continue until Friday.