UMass Memorial Medical Center Management Bows to Pressure from Outraged Nurses, Cancels Planned Nursing Gala, After Nurses Announce Boycott/Protest
Nurses Raise Public Outcry Over Chronic Understaffing of Nurses and Recent Decision to Cut Patient Care Services and Staff While Posting Multi-Million Dollar Profits
As Controversy Rages Over Planned Reduction in Patient Beds, Today the Hospital Issued an Alert that All Beds in the Hospital Were Full, Justifying the Nurses’ Concerns for Patient Safety
WORCESTER, MA -- Bowing to pressure from outraged unionized nurses from the UMass Memorial, Hahnemann, Home Health and Hospice, and the UMass University Medical Center campuses of UMass Memorial Health Care, hospital management today made a hasty announcement that they were canceling a Nursing Appreciation Gala, scheduled for Tuesday, Sept, 21 at the DCU Center in Worcester, MA. The cancelation comes two days after nurses had called for a boycott of the event, and the same day the nurses alerted the media of their intent to hold a demonstration outside the event.
The nurses have raised concerns about 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 were alarmed that these service cuts came 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. Coincidently, today, the same day that they announced the cancelation of the gala, the hospital issued an internal alert to all staff that there were no beds available to care for incoming patients, underscoring and justifying the nurses’ opposition to the cuts.
“Even with these 28 beds still in place, we don’t have the ability to care for the patients right now, what happens when we don’t have these beds, and it’s flu season?” asked Lynne Starbard, RN, a nurse on the UMass Memorial campus who co chairs their local bargaining unit of the Massachusetts Nurses Association. “I’ll tell you what will happen, patients will wait longer for care, patients will receive poor care, and many will be harmed.”
“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. “If they want to value nurses, they should provide us with safe conditions.”
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.
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.