2010 News

UMass Memorial Medical Center Nurses to Hold Demonstration Outside Hospital-Sponsored Nursing Appreciation Night at DCU Center on Sept. 21

09.15.2010

Nurses are Protesting Management’s Chronic Understaffing of Nurses and Recent Decision to Cut Patient Care Services and Staff While Posting Multi-Million Dollar Profits

When:             Tuesday, September 21

                       5 – 6:30 p.m.

Where:           Outside entrance to DCU Center on Major Taylor Blvd. 

Registered nurses from the UMass Memorial, Hahnemann, Home Health and Hospice, and the UMass University Medical Center campuses of UMass Memorial Health Care are planning a demonstration outside a management-hosted Nursing Appreciation Gala, scheduled for Tuesday, Sept., 21 at the DCU Center in Worcester, MA. The nurses will be protesting outside the event because of the hospital’s daily disrespect for nurses under the current nursing leadership, poor staffing conditions, and the recent decision to close a much-needed medical surgical floor, which will result in the loss of more than 27 nursing positions along with many more cuts to valuable support staff.

Nurses at the hospital are outraged that these service cuts are coming just two months after UMMHC needed to declare an “internal disaster,” forcing all nurses and support staff to work overtime, simply because there were not enough beds and staff to safely care for patients. The nurses cite the onset of the flu and pneumonia season, as well as a state prohibition against the diversion of ambulances, as a recipe for a patient care disaster at the facility, resulting in poor patient care and the burnout of already overburdened staff. All of this is occurring after the medical center posted profits last year of more than $80 million, and after management  hired consultants to implement so called “lean” production methods—a process that CEO John O’Brien promises will necessitate even deeper cuts in the coming months. These same lean production methods, pioneered by a leading auto manufacturer, led to one of the largest auto recalls in history last year. In a hospital setting the nurses believe the outcome could mean an increase in patient complications, longer waits for patients and an increase in preventable patient deaths.

According to Lynne Starbard, RN, a nurse on the UMass Memorial campus who co chairs their local bargaining unit, “You can’t say you appreciate nurses when you regularly force them to work under conditions that jeopardize their license to practice their profession. We don’t need a gala; we need safe staffing and a commitment to providing the quality care our patients deserve.”

“The nurses have had it with the complete disrespect for nurses and patients shown by this administration and as demonstrated by the changes taking place,” said Kathy Logan, RN, chair of the MNA local bargaining unit on the UMass University campus.  “We have nothing to celebrate.  If they want to value nurses, they should provide us with safe conditions.” 

The UMass Memorial campus nurses are currently locked in a contentious negotiation for a new contract. Improvements in RN staffing levels is just one of the issues preventing a settlement. The University campus nurses settled their contract back in February. 

FPO