Striking ARH Nurses Receive Support From National Organizations

By: Jeff Allen Email
By: Jeff Allen Email

Now in its fourth week, nurses on strike at ARH hospitals around the region are getting support from some national organizations.

The scene in Middlesboro Thursday morning was similar at other ARH hospitals with people chanting and yelling.

Representatives from at least a couple more union organizations stepped onto the picket lines Thursday to support the nurses. The CEO of one ARH hospital says she worries the longer this drags on, the less chance the nurses will have a job to go back to.

Members of the Kentucky and West Virginia Nurses Associations are holding strong. One of their chief complaints against ARH, that nurses are overworked.

"Nurse fatigue is leading to errors and we've seen it, we've seen the errors," said Nurse Sonya England.

The CEO of the Middlesboro ARH denies that.

"We ensure our patients are our top priority and they are safe. We have the equipment we need," said CEO Susan Roman.

Representatives from the AFL-CIO are among many other union groups supporting the nurses.

"All of us are patients and we need them and they need to be treated with respect and dignity," said Bill Londrigan with Kentucky AFL-CIO.

The United Steelworkers are on the picket line because they say they've been in the same type of situation before and they say they can identify with what they're fighting for.

"Everyone knows we're out here for what's right and when you're standing for what's right, you win and that's our expectation," England said.

But the Middlesboro ARH CEO says five nurses have already left the strike to go back to their jobs. They've hired fifteen replacement workers and she says the longer the strike goes on, she worries the less chance the striking nurses' will still have a job to go back to.

"We have the right to hire replacement workers. We're doing so. We have patients to take care of and we're going to proceed on," Roman said.

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