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Geisinger’s nurses union contemplates next move

Three-year contract for about 400 nurses at Plains Township medical center runs out on Tuesday.

PLAINS TWP. – Nearing the end of their contract with Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center, unionized nurses Thursday laid out their key issues for a new contract and called on hospital administration to agree to them.

The three-year contract for approximately 400 nurses represented by the Service Employees International Union ends Tuesday, a scheduled negotiating date.

Critical-care registered nurse Ruth Visintainer, a leader on the negotiating team, said staffing levels, patient care advocacy, competitive wages, training and technology are the main concerns of the nurses.

Visintainer, a 24-year hospital employee, would not say whether the nurses would work without a contract. She said the union is “going to do everything that is humanly possible to work with our administration” to settle disagreements.

As for going on strike, Visintainer said, “That’s not something that we wish to discuss. What we want to discuss is that were here to care for all of our community.”

Geisinger spokesman Dave Jolley said the two sides have been meeting over the past few months. “We expect to reach a reasonable agreement,” he said.

Approximately 20 union members and representatives of elected officials, labor and the clergy joined the nurses for a short press conference at the Woodlands Inn & Resort.

The hospital has undergone tremendous growth with the addition of a critical-care tower, the expansion of the Frank M. & Dorothea Henry Cancer Center and the designation as a Level II trauma center, said registered nurse Rosemary Lucarino.

With that increase in size, the workload has grown, and Lucarino expressed concern about having enough nurses at the bedsides of patients.

“We see on a daily basis how our hospital works and where we can do better,” said Lucarino, a 27-year hospital employee.

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