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Walkout by BNA continues

By Chris Buckley
VALLEY INDEPENDENT

BROWNSVILLE - Picketing outside the home of the hospital CEO and a Monongahela health care firm that provided services to the Brownsville General Hospital during the current labor dispute, members of the Brownsville Nurses Association continued their strike this week.

The 88-member nurses association struck at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. BNA/PSEA Healthcare gave hospital administration notice of its intent to strike through Feb. 2.

"We tried to conduct a strike that would have the greatest impact on the CEO while having the least impact on the community," said Holly Celaschi, an intensive care unit nurse with 14 years service at BGH.

By law, health care workers are required to give 10 days notice of their intent to strike. BGH has received such notices through Feb. 2, according to Rich Constantine, CEO of Brownsville General Hospital.

Supervisory and management personnel as well as non-union LPNs are providing care during the strike.

The intensive care unit of the hospital is closed and the patients have been transferred to the general medical surgical floor, said Constantine. In addition, 12 patients have been transferred to other medical facilities, he said.

No talks have been scheduled. The last offer made by the hospital is in the hands of the nurses' association, said Constantine. Under that offer, BGH would pay 100 percent of the health care costs if the nurses participated in the UPMC health care plan. The nurses have the option of utilizing other plans, but would pay the difference in cost as compared to the UPMC plan. BGH is affiliated with UPMC, but is not owned by the Pittsburgh-based health care system.

The offer also includes language involving the sub-contracting of some services. This has been a sticking point with the BNA.