Regional Council 4 News
Baystate Franklin Medical Center Nurses and Community Health Care Initiative Host Public Forum Thursday, Sept. 15
Where: Greenfield High School Cafeteria, 1 Lenox Ave., Greenfield, MA
Who: BFMC nurses; members of the Community Health Care Initiative and general public; Moderator and CHCI member Susan Worgaftik; Panel Members Nina Thayer, BSN, RN, NCSN, a CHCI member; Donna Stern, MNA RN, Chair of the BFMC RN Bargaining Committee; and Suzanne Love, MNA RN in the BFMC Emergency Department
The extraordinary collaboration between community members and nurses represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) is meant to integrate the community's concerns about the future of health care in Greenfield into upcoming BFMC nurse contract negotiations.
"We are very excited to have the community as a partner in our efforts to ensure safe patient care at Baystate Franklin Medical Center," said Donna Stern, a psychiatric RN and chair of the BFMC RN Bargaining Committee. "As committed caregivers and members of this community, we look forward to working with our community allies to ensure patients have access to the health care services they need right here in Franklin County."
The partnership between BFMC nurses and the greater Greenfield community has deep roots. Nurses received tremendous community support during a nurse contract campaign three years ago that included a one-day strike as nurses fought to ensure patient safety and maintain basic nurse practice protections.
Over the course of two years, Franklin County residents showed their support for the nurses by posting some 1,200 yard signs, gathering more than 2,000 signatures on a petition to Baystate executives, passing resolutions at 10 town meetings county-wide, participating in rallies and pickets, and holding a community forum which called on Baystate to maintain and restore services at Franklin Medical Center.
Community Health Care Initiative formed following a public forum in March of 2013. A group of Greenfield residents concerned about the future of their hospital created CHCI to serve as an advocacy organization for better and expanded services at BFMC, and out of concern about services moving away from BFMC to Springfield. The group's advocacy, combined with the nurses' ongoing efforts, resulted in the restoration of some health care services and a commitment by Baystate Health to meet with community representatives on a regular basis.
"The public forum on Thursday is an opportunity for the entire community to get behind a renewed effort to keep our health care services local and safe," said CHCI member Nina Thayer, BSN, RN, NCSN. "Community members and our nurses share a mutual commitment to making Baystate Franklin Medical Center one of the best rural community hospitals in the nation."
Overall themes of the partnership include:
- Ensuring patients receive the best and safest possible care at all times
- Keeping appropriate health care services available locally at BFMC
- Improving transportation to make health care accessible to Baystate Health patients, family members and visitors
- Protecting nurse practice standards and benefits
- Improving hospital transparency to ensure the community is informed about the quality of care at their hospital and is able to participate in maintaining, establishing or expanding appropriate health care services at BFMC
Negotiations are expected to begin this fall ahead of the expiration of their current contract on Dec. 31, 2016. There are slightly more than 200 MNA nurses at BFMC.