Nurses Strike on Independence Day

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WILKES-BARRE -- Red, white and blue American flags and yellow picket signs.

Members of the Wyoming Valley Nurses Association say their decision to walk off the job at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital on Independence Day is personal.

"Make it more difficult, perhaps, for the hospital to get replacement nurses. Obviously, those replacement nurses don't come cheap, and if they're working a holiday, it's even more money," said Elaine Weale, president of the Nurses Association.

Weale says registered nurses have been working without a contract at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital for more than a year and a half.

Nurses walked off the job for one day in December, and now they're on a five-day strike, demanding better health insurance, pay and staffing from the hospital's owner, Commonwealth Health.

"I've personally seen unsafe staffing in our unit," says surgical ICU nurse Lauren Hostetler. "We've seen many cutbacks. We don't have secretaries at night, we don't have aides at night. When we have emergencies, there's five of us scrambling."

In a written statement, Commonwealth Health says 79 registered nurses have already crossed the picket line to report to work, and dozens of temporary replacement nurses have been brought in from across the country to keep Wilkes-Barre General open.

"I have a nurse in my mother's room," said Diane Dwinchick of Wyoming. "She's from Alabama and she's just fantastic. I can't say enough for them."

Other people tell Newswatch 16 they did have concerns about bringing their loved ones to Wilkes-Barre General Hospital at the start of a five day nurses strike.

Union members say they're also worried about non-union staff being cut, but nurses on the picket line will return to work Wednesday morning whether or not they have a new contract.

Dwinchick says she's worried about her mother with pneumonia, but she supports the workers on strike.

"The nurses have always been wonderful here," she says. "They've given my mother wonderful care. I can't say enough about them. I do hope that they get what they want."

Commonwealth Health says surgeries and services will continue as normal inside Wilkes-Barre General Hospital as the strike continues outside.


  • jimmy

    Well I’m sure your one of the low lifes that waste precious time in the ER on a weekly basis and delay treatment to those who are more sick or injured so you could seek your vicodin or percocet and you are probably one of those people that pocket the insurance check when it comes instead of forwarding it to the hospital or ambulance so you can keep your crack habit going.

  • Me

    Can’t be that smart if they walk out on a holiday. Now they just lost their holiday pay. My friend is an RN as well and never complained. It’s always money money money.

    You should all be thankful you have jobs to go to around here.
    Stop your whining and do your job ! the scabs will start stealing your jobs ! Then what will you have???

    Nothing !!!!

    • Stephanie

      You try working as a nurse. You try working under the conditions they work. THEN you can talk.
      When you’re responsible for someone else’s life, there need to be certain things in place to make sure PEOPLE DON’T DIE. Hospital corporations don’t care.
      So before you speak, how about you actually have some knowledge of the space before you comment, and not go off a “friend”?

    • judy

      the scabs have a job..being scabs..they get payed very well for it..much more than a local nurse me..they don’t want jobs here

  • John Mansky

    If the general public knew the patient to nurse ratios at most facilities, they’d never allow their loved ones in the hospital! Nurses have to double-check every MD order before implementing it, deal with every department from Respiratory Therapy, to Dietary, to Housekeeping, multiple times a day to ensure patient safety. They get yelled at, spit at, pooped on, peed on, hit, and deal with other infectious bodily fluids all shift long. They have doctors yelling at them when they correct a possibly fatal error, family yelling at them when treatment isn’t going as fast as the family would like, and patients yelling at them just because they don’t want to be in the hospital. They pass meds, do treatments, check and double-check MD orders, explain what the doctor’s don’t have time to explain to family members, run codes, and chart more than a prolific writer writes on a good day. They are mediators, parent figures, heroes and villains, or even sex-objects to the patients they serve. It’s NOT an easy job, yet they go back to work each day because most of them LOVE it! In recent years, staffing ratios have dipped into unsafe levels, yet when nurses complain, they’re labelled as whiny bitches who just want to more money. Patient safety has taken a back seat to profit margins in recent years, and honestly, the general public would be very surprised if they realized the safety of their loved ones in a facility was compromised just so the shareholders make a bigger profit. Yes, nurses knew what they were getting into when they went to nursing school, but it gets worse every year. Unless you’ve worked under these conditions, and seen this first hand, keep your mouths shut. I doubt many of you people saying nasty things about these nurses could walk one hour in their shoes! Kudos to these nurses for standing up for what they believe in and bringing these issues to the public awareness!

    • jimmy

      My only guess is the ones who marked thumbs down are probably the only two bottom dwellers that can read who constantly come in and abuse the ER. The ones that always complain when they don’t get their dilaudid fix “on the spot”, always complain when they don’t get a five course meal in 15 minutes or less when they show up with belly pain and are waiting for a CT scan.
      Secondly, I don’t think they should let any nurses back in for the time being, let the all wonderful…all mighty and perfect physicians do the job and see how long the place will be there before it falls apart, mabe it will spin a new perspective on things.

  • Ema

    I am an RN, I have been for 10 years. We do Everything we can for your family, we treat them like our own. We’re there helping them get better, and when that’s not an option we help them let go. We see every type of person rich, poor, skinny, obese, nice and not so much. We are the trained professionals at the bedside 24/7. This is Not about money! This is about safe working conditions and being able to provide the best care for you and your family. Staffing ratios have been going up everywhere, ancillary staff are losing their jobs. Nurses are being asked to do everything from run the Code Blue to sweeping and mopping the floors. I personally don’t mind sweeping but which would you rather me do? Pay attention to my patient or housework. Or I could also have 7 patients because, the hospitals are also eliminating RN positions as well. Another big part of our job is to do quality control on the orders coming in from all the different services and doctors that are too busy to talk to each other. Even the best doctor can write on the wrong patient or maybe they’re not fully aware of the treatment plan yet. In any case thats the best of doctors. In health care there’s also something called the July Effect where pt mortality goes up about 10% across the nation as the newly academically trained doctors come out into the world and realize that they’ve just scratched the surface. We stand between them and you. We get screamed at, berated, talked down to and still we do the best job we can. All day. Every day. You want to sit there and call us lazy and stupid, that’s your prerogative, I been called worse by better. And think about this too if my job is so easy and I get paid to do so little-why aren’t you doing it?

  • zelcat

    If you never worked a shift at WBGH as an RN you have no idea what you are talking about. There isn’t enough money in the world to pay those nurses for what they have to put up with. Yet they go in there day after day, night after night. The employer here disrespects the staff so much they couldn’t even negotiate a contract so this strike is the result. Once those scabby subs see what it’s like to work in that place they will run out the door and down the road pulling their hair out. Admin really should have respected their professional staff, this is going to be CHAOS.

  • Sissy

    I have no problem if they want to picket. As long as they use a Kleenex and don’t rub it under the table.

  • Tiffany

    First off, they shouldn’t lock their nurse’s out! Those nurse’s are thousands of dollars invested in student loans to save people’s lives! Some work a 100 hours a week to keep this valley healthy & alive. People like you don’t think about that. When you go to that hospital them staffing nurses don’t know that facility so it takes them more time to get what they need to help you! Wgh is a very good hospital with the nurse’s and doctor’s they hired! Those employees spend holidays and birthdays away from their family’s to serve your family! Maybe those who don’t have any compassion for the nurse’s should try and be a nurse! Those who are on strike are picketing for 5 days and are going back to work 5 more days without pay! Those families are going 10 days with no pay check going into their houses! My mother deserves those 10 days of pay for all that she does for her patients!

    • Bill

      You’ve obviously never been to WBGH. One of the worst hospitals I have ever had the displeasure to bring a patient to. The staff is miserable with or without contracts, they lack competency, and they can give two damns about their patients. I wouldn’t take my dog there. I hope they lock them out. And for a good 2 weeks. At least the replacements have a clue and are friendly.

  • Don Helowitz

    Five day strike. Woohoo. If you truly believe in what your are doing then stay on strike as long as it takes to get your demands. Way to lose a weeks pay. I thought nurses were intelligent. Guess these nurses are not.

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