'Patients come first': Temple University Hospital nurses hold rally in advance of possible strike

Nurses from Temple University Hospital have authorized a strike and they held a rally Friday afternoon outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center, with the Magnet Conference happening inside, which celebrates nursing excellence.

"Safe staffing is our number one priority," Janet Eaton said.

Eaton has 40 years of nursing experience with 17 of them at Temple. She says safe staffing, or the ratio of patients to nurses, needs to be lower.

"It is just unbearable. I mean, we cannot survive the way we are surviving much longer. Nursing is not going to exist. I mean, nurses are leaving the bedside by droves and it’s going to continue, unless we stop it," Eaton explained.

Union leaders say 500 nurses left the hospital in the last two years and 150 technical specialists and professionals in recent months. The unions are fighting for competitive wages to recruit and retain staff, workplace violence prevention and resources for frontline staff.

"We work in North Philly. Everybody knows where our hospital is located. It’s a very dangerous community. What’s happening now in the community is making its way in the hospital and we’re not getting any type of protection," President for Technical and Professionals Workers Carlos Aviles stated.

A spokesperson at Temple Health says:

"Temple University Hospital has offered wage increases that would make our nurses the highest-paid of any of the region’s academic medical centers and has also offered to make many of our allied professionals the highest-paid in many of the region’s academic medical centers."

"We are dedicated to patients and that’s why we got into this profession. Corporations like Temple have got to learn that patients come first," Eaton added.