Yet Another UMass Memorial Affiliated Hospital Sees Patient Care Deteriorate Following Ill Advised Staffing Cuts
Marlborough, Mass. In the wake of ill-advised staffing cuts in the emergency department and unsafe patient assignments on other hospital units, the registered nurses of Marlborough Hospital have decided to appeal directly to the facility’s CEO for support in addressing what nurses characterize as a growing patient safety crisis. On Thursday, a delegation of nurses will hand deliver a petition signed by more than 85 percent of the nurses at the hospital, to CEO Steven Roach. The delegation will gather outside the main entrance to the hospital on Thursday, May 8 at 10:30 a.m. to meet with members of the media who wish to learn more about the issues behind the matter. The full text of the petition can be found at the end of the release.
According to Pamela Fondas, a nurse on the hospital’s busy medical-surgical floor and vice chair of the nurses’ local bargaining unit with the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United, “The Marlborough Hospital administration continues to be unresponsive to the concerns of nurses about staffing conditions at the hospital and the impact these conditions are having on the quality and safety of patient care. We have circulated the petition and will deliver it to Mr. Roach to show the depth of support within the Marlborough nursing community and to ask for immediate and real action to address this crisis. He needs to understand that nurses are ready and willing to do whatever it takes to protect their patients.”
Maintaining appropriate staffing levels is a constant struggle at the facility, which is resulting in nurses on a number of units taking on excessive patient assignments. The situation was made more dire following a decision to cut staffing levels in the hospital emergency department, causing unwarranted delays in care. Nurses in the hospital’s intensive care unit report they are often assigned three patients, when the Institute of Medicine says no ICU nurse should ever have more than two patients. At the same time, staffing on the hospital’s busy medical surgical/telemetry floor is also inadequate, with telemetry nurses often asked to take six, seven or even eight patients at one time, when the medical research shows no medical-surgical nurse should ever have more than four patients. According to that same research, current patient assignments place patients at a 14 – 28 percent increase risk of injury or even death.
In recent months, nurses have filed more than 200 reports of unsafe staffing and excessive patient assignments that they believe compromised their ability to deliver appropriate patient care and, according to the federal Medicare program, in the last year, Marlborough Hospital ranked second to last among hospitals in the state for preventable readmission of patients due to inadequate care.
The delivery of the petition follows an effort by the nurses to address the crisis through a special committee the union and management had created to deal with nurse staffing issues. However, every request by the nurses to improve conditions has been rebuffed and management canceled the last two meetings of this committee including one scheduled for Monday of this week. Marlborough management, under direction of UMass Memorial Health Care, the owner of the hospital, has embraced the “Toyota Lean” manufacturing model of patient care delivery, and at one recent meeting, nurses were told that they should expect to “do less with less.”
To address the crisis, the nurses have engaged in a campaign to improve patient care. This began with wearing buttons on their scrubs that read “Patients Deserve More Not Less.” Last month they met with area legislators to educate them about the poor patient care conditions, and in addition to delivering this petition to their own CEO, they plan to make a similar delivery to the Marlborough Hospital Board of Trustees and UMass Memorial CEO Eric Dickson. The nurses are also active in a statewide effort to pass The Patient Safety Act, legislation and a ballot measure that would require safe patient limits for all nurses in all hospitals in the state.
Below is the full text of the petition:
Marlborough Hospital Nurses’ Petition for Safe Staffing and Quality Patient Care Lean Management Is Creating a Patient Safety Crisis
We, the undersigned registered nurses of Marlborough Hospital hereby petition the senior leadership of both Marlborough Hospital and UMass Memorial for your support in addressing a growing crisis in the quality and safety of patient care at our hospital resulting from inadequate RN staffing and unsafe patient assignments throughout the hospital, the ill-conceived restructuring of our emergency department, and other misguided policies implemented under the Toyota Lean manufacturing model that, according to management, demands that nurses “do less with less.” We believe our patients deserve more care, not less, and we call upon management to work with our union to address this growing patient safety crisis.
To view photos from the event visit the MNA facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=645104972248895&l=fdae9eb4f2