Nurses at this NJ hospital say they ‘lack trust,’ wouldn’t feel safe as patients
The union representing nurses at a Monmouth County hospital has released survey results showing a lack of trust in hospital management — while the hospital slams the survey and summary as “devoid of facts” and “self-serving propaganda.”
A survey was carried out among Jersey Shore University Medical Center union members of Health Professionals and Allied Employees, by HPAE Local 5058, from Dec. 31, 2021 through July 19.
Just over half of respondents said they would not feel safe being treated as a patient at the hospital, according to a position paper on the survey.
HPAE also said that "Unionized nurses at JSUMC reported not feeling their efforts are supported by hospital management, nor do they feel respected or protected.”
The union represents registered nurses and other healthcare workers in hospitals, nursing homes, blood banks and clinics in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
“Hackensack Meridian Health has managed to portray themselves as a worthy investment and yet there is little accountability for how they have invested in improving worker and patient safety in their facilities. In actuality, it is a billion-dollar, highly profitable corporation that capitalizes off the labor of overworked underpaid staff, while the corporation is rewarded with record profits,” according to the conclusion of the union’s survey results.
"Devoid of facts"
“HPAE's survey and white paper are devoid of facts and should be scrutinized closely for their motives and timing. It is a self-serving propaganda piece timed to coincide with their current contract negotiations,” Hackensack Meridian Health Public Relations Director Ben Goldstein said in a written statement to New Jersey 101.5 on Friday.
Among JSMU nurses who responded to the roughly 6-month union survey that ended in July:
— 77% said their workload is often excessive
— 88% said their work performance is impaired when the workload is excessive
— 78% said that staffing levels in their clinical area are insufficient to handle the number of patients
— 61% said the hospital does not do a good job of training new personnel
“The truth is that Hackensack Meridian Health has invested millions of dollars into our team members and opened negotiations early to get that money to the union members. Our nurses mean everything to us. They are true American heroes who deserve our utmost respect and gratitude.”
Fighting staff shortages
“Attracting and retaining nursing talent is at a critical juncture. Pandemic fatigue, early retirements and burnout have only exacerbated nursing shortages across the country, and New Jersey is no exception,” Goldstein said in the health network’s written statement.
“We have put in place several strategies to ensure that we have highly qualified bedside registered nurses to care for our patients. Our network implemented an across-the-board 3% compensation increase for all team members, added retention bonuses to stabilize critical areas and moved up our salary ranges to be competitive in the market,” he continued.
“We stand by our proven record of protecting all of our team members and our patients, especially during the most challenging health crisis our nation has faced in a century. Our team members are the backbone of our organization and have been on the front lines of this crisis. We will continue to do everything we can to protect them and lead the way in the fight against COVID-19,” Hackensack Meridian Health’s response continued.
The healthcare provider’s written statement also said that the network led the way when it came to safety and protection during the “unprecedented pandemic,” including being the first in the state to require universal masking in hospitals.
Other efforts included:
— Implementing a vaccine mandate to keep team members and communities safe, achieving a 99.8% vaccination rate, one of the highest in the nation.
— HMH was the first in the state to implement universal testing of team members who worked in long-term care facilities before New Jersey mandated such protections.
— We invested millions in the supply chain to source and track PPE throughout the globe at the beginning of the pandemic. We had and continue to have ample supplies including gowns, gloves, N-95 masks, surgical masks, face shields and other essential protection.
— Our clinical leaders also updated front-line teams in real time on rapidly changing protocols from the CDC regarding proper use of PPE.
Fired nurse during COVID
The union survey paper also mentioned circumstances around a Jersey Shore University hospital nurse, Adam Witt, who was fired in spring 2020.
The hospital and the union have been at odds over the situation since it unfolded over two years ago — the union has said Witt, former president of HPAE Local 5058, had complained about a lack of proper PPE in the first weeks of the pandemic, which the hospital has denied as cause for his termination.
Nancy Corcoran-Davidoff, then-Hackensack Meridian Health Executive Vice President, previously slammed the union's reported 2020 workplace complaints to OSHA and NLRB as “unfounded and incorrect.”
Corcoran-Davidoff retired a year later in April 2021.