Massachusetts Nurses Association/Tufts Medical Nurses Statement Regarding the Retirement of Tufts Medical Center CEO Ellen Zane
By Barbara Tiller, RN, Chair of the MNA Local Bargaining Unit 508.241.8215
BOSTON — It is with great interest for the future of Tufts Medical Center that the registered nurses of this hospital respond to the pending retirement of CEO Ellen Zane. The announcement comes just days after the nurses held a Candlelight Vigil where hundreds of nurses and their supporters gathered outside the facility to protest dangerous staffing conditions created by nursing leadership under the direction of Zane.
For nurses, our primary concern is for the safety of our patients. Under Ms. Zane’s leadership, particularly in the last two years, there has been an effort to cut costs at the expense of patient safety. Whether it is Ellen Zane, or someone else in charge, nurses are committed to fighting for desperately needed improvements in patient care conditions at this level one pediatric trauma and level two adult trauma center.
The nurses have serious concerns about recent cuts in RN staffing levels and other changes in how they deliver care that has resulted in nurses being forced to care for more patients at one time on nearly every unit. To compensate for chronic understaffing, TMC is using mandatory overtime, and is forcing nurses to “float” from one area of the hospital to another where they might not be competent to provide appropriate care.
Those changes transformed this hospital from being one of the best staffed hospitals in Boston to the worst staffed hospital in the city. No other institution in the city is operating ICUs where their nurses are expected to care for three patients, nor are they expecting their medical surgical nurses to carry assignments of up to seven patients on a regular basis.
The staffing changes have caused a dramatic deterioration in both the quality of care nurses are delivering and, in some cases, has resulted in serious lapses in care. In the past year alone, nurses have filed more than 520 reports of incidents that jeopardized patient care.
The nurses are outraged at the lack of regard for patient safety by the Tufts Medical Center administration. The nurses have had countless meetings with management to warn them about their concerns, and have sent two letters to the Board of Trustees appealing for their intervention to protect patients. Yet nothing is done to address this crisis.
The 1,200 RNs at TMC, who are currently in negotiations for a new contract, are seeking contractually guaranteed, safe staffing levels, and prohibitions against forced overtime and the inappropriate floating of nurses from one area of the hospital to another where they might not be competent to provide appropriate care — all of which are needed to ensure that patients at Tufts Medical Center receive the safe care they deserve.