2011 News

Mass. DPH Holds Regional Health Dialogue at St. Vincent Hospital on March 28

03.28.2011

M E D I A   A D V I S O R Y

For Immediate Release

Contact: David Schildmeier 781-249-0430

Date: March 28, 2011

Mass. DPH Holds Regional Health Dialogue at St. Vincent Hospital on March 28

St. Vincent Nurses Will Present Testimony Regarding
Unsafe Staffing Conditions that Are Jeopardizing Patient Safety

When: Monday, March 28, 2011

Time: 1 – 3 p.m.

Where: St. Vincent Hospital, 5 North Conference Room, 123 Summer St., Worcester

Who: DPH Commissioner, John Auerbach, will host the meeting; front line nurses from St. Vincent Hospital will attend to present testimony and share concerns and will be available for interviews with the media

On March 28, Mass. Department of Public Health Commissioner, John Auerbach, will conduct one of a series of regional health dialogues. This one is for community members and providers in Central Massachusetts, to discuss how to improve public health in the current economic climate. The St. Vincent nurses are taking the opportunity to inform the Commissioner of their concerns about current unsafe patient care conditions at the hospital, which is compromising the quality of care patients are receiving at this major medical center.

These nurses who are locked in a protracted dispute with Vanguard, the for-profit owner of the hospital, are working under the worst RN staffing levels in the city. In 2009 the Department of Public Health released a report showing that St. Vincent Hospital had more serious medical errors and patient care mistakes than any hospital in the state. In the last 15 months nurses have filed more than 900 official reports of unsafe conditions at the facility (an average of more than two a day). To address the crisis, the nurses are seeking contract language to guarantee safer staffing levels in the hospital.

The nurses’ concerns are supported by a significant body of research demonstrating the link between poor staffing and a variety of poor patient outcomes and an increase in preventable patient deaths in the nation’s hospitals. In fact, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine published last week shows that when hospital floors or units are understaffed, and where there is a high turnover of patients on a unit each day (as is the case on every unit at St. Vincent Hospital) the risk of patient death increases significantly.

Vanguard is a multi-billion dollar corporation that has posted nearly $50 million in profits at St. Vincent Hospital in the last two years. Despite this, they are skimping on patient care resources, refusing to provide adequate staffing and applying an assembly line mentality to the delivery of patient care. The nurses believe the current economic climate should have no impact on their commitment to invest in appropriate patient care resources, especially when they are making substantial profits and their decisions are having such a detrimental impact on the community’s public health.

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Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is the largest professional health care organization and the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 23,000 members advance the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public. The MNA is also a founding member of National Nurses United, the largest national nurses union in the United States with more than 150,000 members from coast to coast.

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