2009 News

Letter: MGH wants to keep union out of Danvers facility

06.26.2009

To the editor:

I am writing in response to the new Ambulatory Care Center (ACC) just opened in Danvers by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the North Shore Medical Center (NSMC).

This building is single-handedly responsible for many potential RN layoffs at NSMC, all at a time when the economy is unilaterally unforgiving. It was advertised as a fancy new place to get outpatient services met such as mammography, ultrasounds, same-day surgery, etc. — needs that were already being met by community hospitals including NSMC.

Laid-off nurses are not the only ones being disserviced. Patients are being affected as well, which is the real shame.

These procedures are unfortunately being offered in a building without the backdrop of a tertiary hospital waiting in the wings, ready to jump in if an emergency ensues. The only thing it does, and will continue to do, is fatten corporate wallets.

Hospitals are businesses and are run as such. Outpatient services are especially lucrative. Directors for these sites are hired based on bottom lines and tidy budgets; their education consists of business degrees and deal-making.

On the contrary, RNs are concerned about patient outcomes and safe working conditions, not profits and earnings. An empowering force behind NSMC RNs' collective voice is their union — the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA).

Since 1903 the MNA has fought for safe staffing ratios; limits to mandatory overtime; and steps to preven violence in the workplace.

Its RN members want to see patients treated with care, respect, and in a manner that gets them home safely to resume their lives. MNA nurses have a proven record for fighting against big business greed and gluttony, the kind that has reared its ugly head at the ACC.

MGH nurses are not unionized. Because MGH pulled the permit for the ACC, the MNA has been banned from protecting its RN members should they pick up some hours at the new site. Therefore, hiring tactics for this new building subtly discriminate against NSMC RNs and favor those from MGH.

I believe MGH is fearful of integrating union member next to non-union member due to the risk of union spread. Instead, MGH is tucking its tail and hiding, while quietly making a hefty profit.
For those implicitly against the concept of labor unions — and they do exist — one would hope that as a potential patient in the future, surely the facts as summarized can speak louder than preconceived notions and prejudices:

RN unions are associated with safer staffing levels, which improve patient outcomes;

RN unions facilitate RN-MD communication, resulting in better care;

RN unions are associated with increased wages and as a result the institutions where they exist experience decreased turnover and more employee stability. RN unions undeniably advocate for a safe work environment for both patients and staff.

I urge the surrounding communities to put pressure on the new ACC to allow the MNA to do its job.

Fran O'Connell, RN, NSMC
Beverly

FPO