Nurses at Salem Medical Center voted Thursday to ratify a first-ever contract agreement between HPAE Local 5142 and the new owners of the hospital, Community Healthcare Associates, which will take over once the acquisition is approved by New Jersey Commissioner of Health.
“This has been a long journey for the nursing staff at the hospital, but we never gave up. We look forward to working with a new owner to improve patient safety and working conditions,” said Pam Thomas, president of HPAE Local 5142, in a statement.
Bill Colgan, managing partner of Community Healthcare Associates, said in statement: “We are pleased to have reached this agreement and look forward to this important piece of the new Salem Medical Center’s staff helping to pave the way for better health care for the patients we serve.”
The contract, which will go into effect when the sale is finalized, includes the following provisions: A staffing committee of unionized nursing staff and management representatives will be set up to address staffing concerns throughout the facility; floating nurses will be limited to units in which they have had training to protect patients’ safety; a grievance and arbitration procedure will be established to protect the rights and voices of nurses who advocate for patient care; all nursing staff will get a 3 percent wage increase; and equivalent health insurance coverage for all nursing staff that cannot be changed without bargaining with the union.
“Having a contract that gives nurses a say in improving conditions at the hospital will go far to benefit not just the staff but our community to once again have pride in our community hospital,” Thomas said.