Nurses At EMMC Set Deadline For One-Day Strike 

About 850 union nurses at Eastern Maine Medical Center have set a date for their one-day strike. Judy Brown is the President of the Nurses Union at EMMC. “We just want to emphasize that this has nothing to do with wages. this is really about our concern about safe patient staffing,” she says.Greg Howat is the V.P. of Human Resources at EMMC. “They want to to change the contract to add staffing ratios,” he says, “our view is that they have to be persuasive.”Unionized nurses and the administration at EMMC have about 10 days to iron out their differences. The nurses say on Monday, November 22nd, they’ll hold a one-day strike. Officials at EMMC say that, in effect, means nurses will be off the job for three days. “We really find it kind of reprehensible that the medical center has said that they want to lock us out after our one day strike for an additional two days,” says Brown. Hospital officials say it’s not a lock out. They say in order to find staffing to replace the striking nurses, they’ll have to bring in nurses from all over the country and this is the only cost effective way. “The cost of us not taking this stand in the long term will be much greater than the expense,” says Howat.Sticking points in the talks involve staffing, healthcare and the ability of supervisors to transfer nurses to departments they may not be qualified for. Jen Kadel is an R.N. & part of negotiating team for the nurses. “I’m a neo-natal nurse and I am a labor room nurse,” she says. “You don’t want me doing your cardiac cath. You don’t want me running your surgery. It’s just not my skill set.”Hospital officials say they don’t compromise safety. “We certainly look at the competency of the nurses and make sure that they’re competent of providing care to the patients,” Howat says.The two sides head back to the negotiating table Monday. They say they’re hopeful and optimistic a resolution can be reached before the strike date.