METHUEN, Mass. -- RNs from Holy Family Hospital, as well as local supporters, friends and labor advocates, joined together on Monday evening at 70 East Street in Methuen for a candlelight vigil in support of the Holy Family RNs and their ongoing struggle to secure safe patient care standards in their first contract.
The family-friendly event was also intended to educate the community about how safe patient care standards benefit more than just the individual patient: they benefit families and the greater Methuen community overall.
“This issue is close to our hearts,” said Gayle Burke, RN and co-chairperson of the MNA bargaining unit at Holy Family, “as both nurses and as members of the greater Methuen community. We are here tonight as tribute to this: that safe patient care is our concern, and that safe patient care is the best thing we can offer this community.”
The Holy Family RNs joined the MNA in July of 2011 and have been in contract negotiations with management since December of that year. The issue of safe patient care has been at the heart of many negotiation sessions and the RNs have made countless proposals aimed at improving things. Management has rejected all such proposals, counter offering with proposals that would likely worsen the situation.
According to Burke, nurses on every floor and in every unit of Holy Family are being forced to care for too many patients at once a practice that has been proven dangerous by countless research groups and studies over the last two decades. “Yet, management continues to push the envelope when it comes to staffing, and patient safety is regularly jeopardized as a result,” she said. “Adding insult to injury, management is reluctant at best to have a legitimate, proactive conversation with us about how to improve this situation.”
“We want management to understand the gravity of this issue, as well as the effect it could have on the greater community if left unresolved,” said Burke. “Caring for too many patients at one time is dangerous, and it is wrong. As a result, we’re here tonight to inform the public of where things stand in our efforts to keep them safe and healthy.”
In the spirit of the season, and in keeping with their message that caring for the greater community matters, the nurses also collected donations of non-perishable food items. All donations will be delivered to local food pantries in time for the upcoming holidays.
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