2013 News

Media Coverage of Our Historic Strike Vote

03.20.2013

 

Below is some of the media coverage for the QMC nurses’ strike vote.  There was also a story on WBZ Radio that ran all afternoon and during drive time yesterday.,  Our press release was also released nationwide, and appeared on dozens of newspaper and TV web sites across the country. 
 
Boston Globe
 
http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2013/03/19/nurses-union-authorizes-one-day-strike-quincy-medical-center-after-hospital-closes-medical-surgical-unit-and-lays-off-nurses/Vq8SWF0ZhpItqf7aSKxWVL/story.html?camp=newsletter
 
Nurses OK strike at Quincy hospital
No date is set for one-day walkout; staffing at issue at Steward hospital
By Robert Weisman and Jessica Bartlett
 |  Globe Staff | Globe Correspondent  
  March 19, 2013
Long-simmering tensions between Steward Health Care System and the union representing most of its nurses boiled over Tuesday as the union said its members authorized a one-day strike at Quincy Medical Center after the Steward-owned hospital closed a 40-bed medical surgical floor.
Late last month, the Massachusetts Nurses Association was notified that the money-losing Quincy hospital, acquired by Boston-based Steward in 2011, was shutting down the medical surgical floor and laying off 30 nurses who worked there along with 40 technicians, orderlies, and laborers, according to David Schildmeier, spokesman for the nurses association.
“Our concern is not just the layoffs, it’s the closure of the floor,” Schildmeier said. “The deal when they bought the hospital is that there was going to be no reduction of care.”
Staffing has been a sticking point in the ongoing contract negotiations between the nurses union and four Steward hospitals, including Quincy. Nurses filed more than 1,000 “unsafe staffing” complaints against the hospital last year. Steward, owned by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, denies there are safety problems and says it is working to stem losses at Quincy in the face of weak patient volume and declining reimbursements for medical care.
Association members at the Quincy hospital who warned that fewer beds have resulted in patient backups voted 200 to 13 Monday night to authorize the union to call a one-day strike if Steward does not negotiate over the floor’s closing.
The strike day has not been set, but union officials have filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board contending that the Quincy hospital’s owners are refusing to bargain over implemented changes.
Steward spokesman Chris Murphy confirmed Tuesday that Quincy Medical Center reduced its number of medical surgical beds last month, but he said they could be added back in the future if warranted by demand.
Currently, he said, there is a greater need for outpatient services and Steward can’t afford to allocate staff to beds that aren’t being used. Murphy said the hospital had 54 available beds Tuesday but only 34 patients in medical surgical areas.
“It’s very unfortunate that reducing the number of inpatient beds results in a reduction of staff,” Murphy said. “But when a hospital is losing money the way Quincy is, you have to dedicate your resources to services that the community is utilizing.” He said the hospital has 20 nurses vacancies in outpatient units and that laid-off nurses can apply for those jobs if they have the experience.
Unionized nurses and Steward officials offered starkly different views of conditions at Quincy Medical Center. While Murphy contended the hospital has empty beds and one of the shortest emergency room wait times on the South Shore, nurses said the shuttering of the medical surgical floor has left “boarders” waiting for hours in the emergency department — some of them suffering from cardiac or respiratory problems — with no nurses to care for them.
Closing the surgical unit “significantly negatively impacts the patients and the staff,” said Stacey McEachern, an emergency room nurse at the hospital and a nurses union leader. “Patients are waiting in the emergency department instead of being up in their beds, which increases waiting time in the waiting rooms. It’s stressed the already short staffing and creates a bottleneck and domino effect on the entire hospital.”
Union official Paula Ryan, a recovery room nurse who said she was born at the Quincy hospital and delivered her own children there, disputed Steward’s assertions that the Quincy hospital has 20 open nursing positions.
“There seems to be a big disconnect between management and what we do, what our responsibilities are to the public, what our license dictates for us to do,” Ryan said. “They don’t understand what our job function is, and I can only say we will advocate for our patients and our practice. That’s what nursing is about. We’ll continue to speak out about our patients.”
Murphy, however, said the volume of patients using the medical surgical beds has been so low in recent months that nurses are sometimes reading because there is nothing to do.
He noted that Steward saved about 700 jobs in 2011 when it acquired the then-bankrupt hospital and since has absorbed $23 million in losses.
The chain also has invested $32 million in new construction, renovations, hiring new doctors, and technology improvements, he said, while committing another $20 million to new operating rooms and labor and delivery units.
“We need to staff the hospital for the volume we currently have,” he said. “No hospital, regardless of tax status, can lose millions or dollars a year and stay open.”
Robert Weisman can be reached at weisman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeRobW. Jessica Bartlett can be reached at jessica.may.bartlett@gmail.com.
 
 
Patriot Ledger
 
http://www.patriotledger.com/topstories/x1893342924/With-strike-vote-Quincy-Medical-Center-nurses-hope-for-more-discussion-with-managers?zc_p=1
 
Quincy Medical Center nurses hope strike vote gets managers' attention
Nurses at Quincy Medical Center said they hope a vote for a one-day strike will prod managers into addressing their concerns about staffing and patient safety.
 
Nurses on Tuesday voted 200 to 13 to authorize their bargaining committee to call a one-day strike if hospital owner Steward Health Care refuses to negotiate what nurses say is a lack of sufficient staffing, the Massachusetts Nurses Association said.
Steward, which bought the financially struggling hospital two years ago, said managers held four meetings with the nurses’ union before a recent decision to close the inpatient surgical unit and shared details about expanded outpatient services.
 
The nurses association is one of a number of bargaining units employed by the hospital, a spokesman said.
 
“This temporary closure has had zero impact on our emergency department or our ability to admit patients,” Quincy Medical Center President Daniel Knell wrote in a letter to employees.
 
Nurses and the state association say they’ll file an unfair-labor practices complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.
“They are stonewalling,” emergency room nurse Stacey McEachern of Hanover said.
McEachern and the state association argue that nurse layoffs and other staff cuts have affected the quality of patient care.
 
Nurses haven’t set a deadline for a possible strike, and they’re looking for “a sincere effort to sit down and negotiate” plans and staffing levels, said nurse Paula Ryan of Quincy.
 
If nurses do strike, Steward will have a plan to make sure “no patients are negatively affected,” said Steward spokesman Christopher Murphy.
 
Knell said the surgical unit and related layoffs were necessary for the hospital’s financial survival.
 
“I hope to be able to bring these employees back to QMC once volume (of patients) increases,” Knell said.
 
He said Steward spent $21 million on nursing staff and services in 2012, and plans $20 million in upgrades in coming years. He said that on Tuesday the hospital had 20 open beds for any new patients who might be admitted. Thirty-four of 54 beds were occupied.
 
He also said the state’s mandated cap on health care costs such as Medicare has affected the hospital’s budget.
 
“This is the reality we live in,” Knell said.
 
The strike vote further sharpens longstanding disagreements between Steward and the nurses. 
 
Steward bought Quincy Medical in 2011, and says closing the 40-bed inpatient surgical unit along with layoffs are part of a shift to outpatient medical services that’s based on community needs and recommended by hospital managers

Knell in his letter said there has been “significant misinformation” about those plans.
But nurses McEachern and Ryan said disagreements over nurse staffing levels remain a basic sticking point.
 
“There’s a huge disconnect,” Ryan said.
 
Boston-based Steward was launched by private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management in 2010 to buy the six hospitals in the Caritas Christi System. That group includes Norwood Hospital, Carney Hospital in Dorchester and Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton.
 
Steward also owns four other hospitals in eastern Massachusetts, including Morton Hospital in Taunton. Quincy Medical had financially struggled for years, and in 2011 filed for bankruptcy protection as part of its plan to be taken over by Steward.
Lane Lambert may be reached at llambert@ledger.com.
 
Brockton Enterprise
 
http://www.enterprisenews.com/topstories/x694779978/With-strike-vote-Quincy-Medical-Center-nurses-hope-for-more-discussion-with-managers
 
With strike vote, Quincy Medical Center nurses hope for more discussion with managers
By Anonymous
GateHouse News Service
Posted Mar 19, 2013 @ 10:02 PM
Nurses  at Quincy Medical Center said they hope a vote for a one-day strike will prod managers into addressing their concerns about staffing and patient safety.
 
Nurses on Tuesday voted 200-13 to authorize their bargaining committee to call a one-day strike if hospital owner Steward Health Care refuses to negotiate what nurses say is a lack of sufficient staffing, the Massachusetts Nurses Association said.
 
Steward, which bought the financially struggling hospital two years ago, said managers held four meetings with the nurses’ union before a recent decision to close the inpatient surgical unit and shared details about expanded outpatient services.
 
“This temporary closure has had zero impact on our emergency department or our ability to admit patients,” hospital President Daniel Knell wrote in a letter to employees.
But nurses and the state association say they will file an unfair-labor practices complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.
 
“They are stonewalling,” emergency room nurse Stacey McEachern of Hanover said.
McEachern and the state association argue that nurse layoffs and other staff cuts have affected the quality of patient care.
 
Nurses haven’t set a deadline for a possible strike, and they’re looking for “a sincere effort to sit down and negotiate” plans and staffing levels, said nurse Paula Ryan of Quincy.
 
Taunton Daily Gazette
Nurses at Steward facility in Quincy vote to authorize strike
Claim cutbacks compromise patient safety


Read more: http://www.heraldnews.com/news/x898151544/Nurses-at-Steward-facility-in-Quincy-vote-to-authorize-strike#ixzz2O5N60gWu
 
 
Registered nurses at Quincy Medical Center have voted to authorize a one-day strike to protest layoffs, the closure of a surgical unit and what they say is a refusal by the hospital’s owner to negotiate those plans.
 
Quincy Medical Center was purchased in 2011 by Steward Health Care, the same for-profit company that owns Saint Anne’s Hospital in Fall River and Morton Hospital in Taunton.
 
The Massachusetts Nurses Association said the nurses on Monday voted 200 to 13, or 94 percent, to authorize the nurses’ bargaining committee to call the strike. The association said 90 percent of the hospital’s nurses voted.
 
If the strike is scheduled, the hospital must be notified at least 10 days in advance.
Chris Murphy, Steward Health Care director of media relations, said there were no planned unit closures or strikes at either Saint Anne’s or Morton.
 
The vote by Quincy nurses may intensify a growing disagreement between them and Steward.
 
The nurses said the moves are creating dangerous conditions for patients, including prolonged waits in emergency department beds because there are fewer inpatient beds available.
 
Steward disputes those claims. Steward said the closing of the 40-bed inpatient surgical unit and related layoffs are part of a shift to outpatient medical services. It said the elimination of those beds is temporary response to low patient volume.
 
Last week, a Steward spokesman said the shift is based on community patient needs, and came from recommendations made by the hospital’s managers.
Steward said the hospital plans to hire as many as 20 nurses, most for outpatient services, and has opened a new 14-unit emergency department. It is also recruiting new physicians.
 
Daniel Knell, president of Quincy Medical Center, sent a memo to colleagues that explained the hospital’s situation. It said there had been “significant misinformation and distortion of the facts” regarding the reduction of beds.
 
It said that in 2012 and into 2013, Steward suffered some $26 million in net income losses, and invested around $31 million in construction, renovations, physician network expansion and clinical technology improvements. It plans to add approximately $20 million more in upgrades in the coming years.
 
“No hospital, regardless of tax status, can lose millions of dollars per year and stay open,” Knell said in the letter. “Without a break-even operating margin, we cannot continue to upgrade our facilities, invest in technology, grow services or compensate staff.
 
“We are in a difficult environment. The state of Massachusetts has mandated a cap of 3.6 percent on total health care cost increases, and sequestration has significantly impacted our Medicare reimbursement. This is the reality we live in, whether or not MNA leadership chooses to accept it. As a result, we need to make difficult decisions.”
Steward Health Care, a Boston-based company, was launched by private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management in 2010 to buy the six hospitals in the Caritas Christi System. That group includes Saint Anne’s Hospital, Morton Hospital, Norwood Hospital, Carney Hospital in Dorchester and Good Samaritan Hospital and Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton.
 
Email Deborah Allard at dallard@heraldnews.com.
FPO