I am a registered nurse at UPMC Altoona; the news reports appear to be focused on our salaries, and that is not the biggest issue here.
We are not asking for an increase in our salaries. We are asking for UPMC to not decrease and/or freeze our salaries. One of the most important issues here is unsafe staffing.
Registered nurses cannot provide excellent care to each and every one of six to eight patients and/or three to four ICU patients.
This has already proven to be extremely unsafe. I work on the observation unit and five patients are difficult at times.
Charting with zero errors is expected, and RNs providing the utmost care of each patient is expected from the hospital, patients and their families. RNs being overloaded with patient care is an unsafe practice for everyone involved.
UPMC is trying to take away our retirement, our sick days, seniority, overtime, shift differential, uniform allowances (but have a uniform code), part-time nurses, eventually destroy our union, increase our health benefits and expect us to work overtime regardless of any incentive offered.
We are not machines.
When unfair and unsafe practices are forced upon nursing, you are jeopardizing the lives we are caring for.
We are jeopardizing our licenses that we worked so hard to obtain. We at UPMC Altoona, including every department, take pride in providing the utmost care to our patients and their families every shift, every day.
According to its definition, morale is "more influenced from the top down than from the bottom up."
What happened to boosting employee morale? How can UPMC expect us to come to work every day and perform top-notch care, after everything has been stripped away, that we and the nurses before us, have fought for over the past 30 years?
(Editor's note:?This letter was published with an incorrect headline Saturday.)