Nurses Fear Being Told "Go Home"

By Jim Madalinsky

Published 02/11 2014 10:19PM

Updated 02/11 2014 11:43PM

ALTOONA - UPMC Altoona is planning a transition period starting Wednesday morning to phase out the replacement nurses and that means some union nurses could show up here to work tomorrow and be told thanks, but no thanks.
Hundreds came out Tuesday night to show their support for the more than 700 striking SEIU nurses at UPMC Altoona.
Those nurses plan to head back to work Wednesday morning, but for some that won't be an option.
“This could last until Friday or so or potentially Saturday if needed,” UPMC Altoona Chief Nursing Officer Chris Rickens says.
UPMC Altoona says there will be a transition period, as they work to phase out replacement nurses.
“We've been meeting with our managers trying to figure out where our void is, where our holes are and we will begin to transfer people back as early as tomorrow,” Rickens says.
 “We all want to go back to work so we're going to be ready. If they don't have us all back to work then we're going to be out here advocating on the streets for our patients,” Registered nurse Kim Heverly says.
And that's just what the union nurses did Tuesday night.
They say their pension and a change in guidelines over the number of patients a nurse can have at one time are the two main issues.
 “The guidelines that we have are made to keep us safe and keep our patients safe, we can give adequate time to each patient to make sure they get the best care,” Registered Nurse Colleen Shields says.
 “I thought my life was set. Finish off working for Altoona Regional, turned into UPMC and now I have no idea what the future brings,” Registered Nurse James Schellhammer says.
The hospital says more than 170 union nurses crossed the picket line and while both sides continue to differ on a few big issues, they do agree on one thing.
“We want to make sure that this community is taken care of appropriately and we need to figure out on both sides how we can make that happen,” Rickens says.
Negotiations are scheduled for February 18th, 19th, and 20th. Again those union nurses say they plan to come together again Wednesday morning, and will continue to picket if some nurses aren't allowed back to work.

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