HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Nurses and caregivers from across the state rallied at the state capitol Tuesday. They’re urging lawmakers to spend more money on healthcare staffing and better wages. They’re asking for at least $250 million from the state budget, which they say is critical.
“We have the American Rescue Package, we’re going to get $7.3 billion into Pennsylvania, and right now, we’re in the middle of budget talks,” said Matt Yarnell, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, a union of nurses and healthcare workers.
“Leader Costa and I just left a meeting on the 2nd floor in the building where we put out a proposal to make sure in this budget you don’t wait any longer to not be paid poverty wages,” said Rep. Joanna McClinton (D) Delaware and Philadelphia counties.
So how exactly would this $250 million from the state budget that healthcare workers are pushing for actually help?
“Move certified nursing assistants to a minimum of $17 an hour, nurses that work in nursing homes to $25 an hour, minimum just walking in the door and the rest of those staff to get to be able to get to $15, $16 an hour so folks who work in dietary, laundry, housekeeping,” Yarnell said.
According to SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania is facing a major staffing crisis and has been for the past several years.
“We represent about 110 facilities and we used to have just under 11,000 members. Today we have about 6,000 members in the same number of buildings, so to just give you a sense of the number of people who have left the bedside as caregivers,” Yarnell said.
In addition to the $250 million, they’re asking for $25 million on top of that.
“The state health nurses, there are about 150 or 170 vacancies in the department of public health and we need those positions filled,” Yarnell said.