Thursday July 13, 2017
By Holly Herman
POTTSTOWN, PA- About 40 Pottstown Memorial Medical Center nurses rallied Wednesday to encourage Reading Health System to honor the nursing union’s requests to improve working conditions and patient care.
The hospital’s 320 nurses joined a union in September with the hope of making changes to improve health care provided at the medical center at High Street and Armand Hammer Boulevard in Pottstown.
In May, Reading Health System reached an agreement with Tennessee-based Community Health Systems to purchase five hospitals in Pennsylvania, including Pottstown Memorial Medical Center.
The Pottstown nurses are represented by the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals based in Conshohocken. Negotiations for an initial contract with Community Health Systems had been ongoing for five months.
“As we were working on negotiating working conditions and safety, the hospital was sold,” said Jessica Cosme, union spokeswoman. “The next step in moving forward is to sit down with Reading Hospital.”
Because the hospital sale still is in the review process, Reading Health System could not comment, said spokeswoman Jessica Bezler. Officials for Pottstown Memorial Medical Center were unavailable.
At Wednesday’s rally, nurses carried signs that read “Putting Patients before Profits” and “Respect Nurses.”
Lori Domin, a registered nurse spearheading negotiations for the union, said Pottstown nurses had made considerable progress toward their first contract with Community Health Systems.
“I am looking forward to working with Reading to improve patient care,” Domin said.
The union wants to make sure nurses have good working conditions, she said, noting that some Pottstown nurses have been reassigned to hospital areas where they are not specialized to work.
Patricia Eakin, president of the union, said the primary goal is to place nurses in posts where they specialize and to improve overall health care.
“At the end of the day, it’s in the best interests of everyone, including the community, to sit down and have a good faith discussion about our collective future,” Eakin said.
Other hospitals involved in the sale to Reading Health System are Chestnut Hill Hospital, Philadelphia; and three in Chester County: Brandywine Hospital, Coatesville; Phoenixville Hospital; and Jennersville Regional Hospital, West Grove.