On Dec. 19, I attended the candlelight vigil held by Altoona registered nurses. The nurses are negotiating a contract with the new owners, UPMC, and are worried about the future.
I have to say that I am worried, too. If our nurses are not being offered good jobs, and their concerns about staffing are not being heard, what happens to our community?
My family has counted on this hospital for years, and many of us know the nurses who work there.
If you have to be in the hospital, it's very comforting to see a familiar face, and know that the nurses caring for you are your friends and neighbors as well.
If UPMC refuses to step up, will nurses stay here and continue to make the Altoona region their home, or will they move away for better opportunities? Will the hospital be able to recruit good nurses to replace them?
Our community is at risk of losing the great nurses who have taken care of us, our parents, and our children and may not be able to attract equal new talent.
We cannot let that happen.
I also trust the nurses to know what kind of staffing they need to best take care of their patients.
When management flat-out rejects their proposals on staffing ratios, I worry that the new owners are not listening to the people who know best.
A lot of us had concerns when UPMC took over our regional hospital, but we were assured the change would be best for the future because of all UPMC could offer.
But if they cannot even maintain good rapport with the nurses and won't work with the nurses on their staffing concerns, I don't see how this is a good thing.
(The writer is a volunteer at the hospital.)