UPHS Portage Nurses to Rally for Safe Staffing and a Fair Contract

Participants send a clear message to LifePoint executives: invest in the community or leave

Hancock, MI – U.P. Health System nurses and community members will be holding a rally beginning at 4:30pm today at the Portage Canal Lift Bridge to call on LifePoint executives to negotiate a fair contract to recruit and retain nurses.

“Our staffing levels are getting dangerously low as more and more nurses leave,” said Danielle Hamlin, RN at UPHS Portage. “We just want to be able to look after our families and our community.”

In order to be competitive with area hospitals, UPHS Portage nurses would need at least a 7.75% raise to become close to market rates. Currently, UPHS is only offering a 3.5% raise. Nurses in their last contract had agreed to take lower wages to try to help the hospital. Now, UPHS Portage is profitable.

“LifePoint and Apollo executives seem to care more about making money off of us than they do about investing in our community,” said Leanna Pennala, RN. “Their conduct really makes you question whether they can appropriately run our health system. Our patients’ lives should always come before expanding a billionaire’s profit margins.”

U.P. Health System was purchased a few years ago by LifePoint, a company based in Tennessee owned by the private equity firm Apollo Management, based in New York. Apollo manages over $400 billion in assets and has made a profit during the pandemic. Apollo’s current CEO has a net worth of over $4 billion.

LifePoint’s ownership of UPHS has been contentious. Four years ago, nurses at Marquette went on strike to win a fair contract.

“These out-of-state executives just don’t understand how desperately we need to be able to have more staff to keep our patients safe. We’re just stretched too thin,” said Rebecca Kerry, RN. “We’re pleading with them to do the right thing. They haven’t listened.”

“On some days, it feels like these out-of-state executives don’t care about us or our community, so long as they can keep making money,” said Amanda Klein, RN. “It isn’t right. These LifePoint executives need to either start using their billions of dollars to invest in our community or they need to leave.”

After three extensions, the contract for Portage nurses expired on September 30. Nurses say that they are willing to do whatever it takes to keep their patients safe.

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Contact: Amelia Dornbush; 517-896-7478

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