Nurses launch campaign to oust CEO
By Paul Leighton
October 20, 2008 10:40 pm
View Original story in Glouster Daily Times
BEVERLY, MA— More than 200 nurses, including some at Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester, have voted "no confidence" in Northeast Health System CEO Stephen Laverty and are mounting a public campaign to get him fired, according to the nurses union.
Marie Freeman, a nurse at Beverly Hospital, also part of Northeast, and the vice chairwoman of the union, said the union has sent letters to local politicians asking them to pressure the board of trustees to fire Laverty.
"We want our hospital back the way it used to be before this administration came in," Freeman said.
Jeanine Burns, an emergency room nurse at Addison Gilbert, said, "An overwhelming majority of our nurses voted for (the no confidence vote). I think only two didn't vote on it."
One of the nurses' complaints against Laverty is that he favored Beverly Hospital at the expense of Addison Gilbert.
The no-confidence vote was taken this month by nurses at Beverly Hospital, Addison Gilbert Hospital and the Hunt Center in Danvers who are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association. Freeman said more than 200 of the union's 600 nurses cast votes, and all but two voted against Laverty.
In a press release announcing the vote yesterday, the nurses union said Laverty and his administration have created a "punitive organizational culture that continues to be characterized by oppressive management practices."
"I can't honestly say that the same thing is going on at AGH as Beverly," said Burns. "Because we are small, our managers tend to work with us. But the culture of Northeast trickles down to us."
At Beverly Hospital, the nurses say the emergency department capacity has doubled but the staff has not increased to keep up with larger number of patients. Experienced nurses have left the hospital due to a "toxic work environment," the union said.
The union also said managers have "targeted" nurses for "unwarranted discipline" and have discouraged nurses from documenting "potentially dangerous patient care conditions."
"I think in general this should make everyone leery of the conditions that really good nurses and physicians are working against," said Peggy O'Malley, chairwoman of Partners of Addison Gilbert Hospital, a citizen's group that has been concerned that Northeast has transferred too many services from the Gloucester hospital to Beverly. "Here we have ethical obligations to patients and when nurses speak up for patients, they are met with the same hostility that those from outside the organization are met with."
Gregory Bird, Beverly Hospital's chief nursing officer and senior vice president for patient care services, said he was "stunned" by the nurse union's accusations.
"They are clearly not congruent with the sentiments of the nurses that I interact with on a daily basis throughout our hospital system," Bird said, "and I am confident that the majority of the nurses would reject them."
Chip Payson, vice president of external affairs, said hospital officials are "disappointed" with the union's statements.
"We do not believe that the MNA's expressed point of view is consistent with the facts or the sentiment of the broader nursing workforce," Payson said.
The vote by the nurses union comes on the heels of a similar no-confidence vote by doctors at Beverly Hospital in April. Dr. Jonathan Schreiber, president of the Northeast Hospital Corp. medical staff, declined to comment yesterday on the nurses' vote.
Nancy Palmer, chairwoman of the Northeast Hospital Corp. board of trustees, could not be reached for comment. Northeast Hospital Corp. is the parent company of Beverly Hospital.
Freeman said the nurses union appealed to the hospital board of trustees to address the issue in 2005. Since that request "fell on deaf ears," she said, the union decided to bypass trustees this time and appeal directly to the public.
"The politicians have an obligation to protect their community," Freeman said. "Hopefully, they will recognize the crisis we have and make calls to the board of trustees and help us out."
The board of trustees hired Laverty in 2000 as president and chief executive officer of Northeast Health System, which includes hospitals in Beverly, Gloucester and Lynn and outpatient centers in Danvers and Ipswich.The board has credited Laverty with overseeing an expansion at Beverly Hospital and opening a new medical center in Danvers.
In 2005, Beverly Hospital was cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for exposing employees to "workplace violence in the form of aggressive and/or abusive behavior and language from patients and employees at your facility.
" Last month, former hospital executive Paul Galzerano was arrested and accused of stealing paintings and other valuables from the hospital during the expansion that he helped to oversee.
"A lot of the artwork that was stolen came from AGH and it speaks to the issues in upper management," said Burns. "Our director of nurses was let go. So much has happened that we really need good stewardship. We are diverting people all the time, because specialists won't come over the bridge."
Staff reporter Patrick Anderson contributed to this story. Paul Leighton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nurses' complaints against Stephen Laverty ADMINISTRATION
Doubled ER capacity without adding enough staff
Targeted nurses for "unwarranted discipline, including termination"
Discouraged nurses from documenting "potentially dangerous patient care conditions"
Exposed workers to "workplace violence"
Intimidated nurses to forgo overtime pay
Favored Beverly Hospital at expense of Addison Gilbert Hospital