UMass Memorial Medical Center Nurses Will Conduct an Informational Picket & Rally Outside the Memorial Hospital Campus on Oct. 13.
To Protest Poor Staffing Conditions, the Proposed Closure of Needed Beds along with Wage and Benefit Cuts, While UMass Memorial is Posting Profits of More Than $90 Million
Hundreds of Nurses from Across the State Plan to Join the Demonstration
As the MNA Convention is Being Held at DCU Center That Day
Protest Underscores Growing Unrest Between the State’s Nurses and Hospital Administrators As the Industry Exploits the Current Economic Climate to Cut Costs at the Patients’ Expense
When: Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010 from 2 - 4 p.m.
Where: Outside entrance to the UMass Memorial Hospital Campus
119 Belmont St in Worcester.
Registered nurses from the UMass Memorial, Hahnemann, Home Health and Hospice, and the UMass University Medical Center campuses of UMass Memorial Health Care, joined by hundreds of frontline nurses from across the Commonwealth, are planning a demonstration and rally outside the entrance to the UMass Memorial Hospital campus, scheduled for Oct. 13 beginning at 2 p.m. The nurses are protesting poor staffing conditions, the recent decision to close a much-needed medical surgical floor, as well as demands for wage and benefit cuts; all of which the nurses believe compromise their ability to deliver the quality of care patients deserve.
The picketing coincides with the opening of the Massachusetts Nurses Association’s annual convention, which is being held at the DCU Center, and the organization will bus the attendees to the picket. The event underscores growing unrest between the state’s nurses and a health care industry that seems hell bent on exploiting the current economic climate as an excuse to cut services, demand concessions from nurses, and gut patient safety standards.
Nurses at the hospital are outraged that the hospital is cutting services and forcing nurses to work understaffed at a time when the hospital is regularly issuing hospital-wide alerts, because there are not enough beds or 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 has posted profits of more than $90 million in last 18 months, 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 protracted and contentious negotiation for a new contract. Contract language to require safe RN staffing levels is just one of the issues preventing a settlement, as is the hospital’s demand that home care nurses endure a 10 percent wage cut, that part-time nurses pay significantly more for their health insurance benefits and the hospital’s refusal to grant the Memorial campus nurses wage rates on a par with their counterparts on the UMass University Medical Center campus. The University nurses settled their contract in February.