Cites his record on health care and nursing issues
CANTON. Mass. — The Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA), which represents more than 20,000 registered nurses and health care professionals in Massachusetts, announced its endorsement and support for Senate President Thomas F. Birmingham for Governor, citing his strong record in addressing complex health care issues, and his longstanding support for nurses in their efforts to improve care to patients. The announcement was made today at a rally of nurses and other Birmingham supporters outside Whidden Hospital, a facility Birmingham helped save from closure last year. Birmingham used the event to unveil a detailed health care plan, which includes a series of proposals to address a growing crisis in nursing.
"The MNA is behind Tom Birmingham because he has a proven record on a variety of health care issues and a unique understanding of the role nurses play in the health care system, both through his years in the State Senate, as well as through his work as a labor attorney representing RNs at the bargaining table," said Karen Higgins, MNA President. "As nurses struggle to provide quality patient care in understaffed environments made worse by a looming nursing shortage, Tom Birmingham has reached out to the nursing community to hear our concerns and has joined us in supporting efforts to address this crisis through promotion of legislation that would regulate RN-to-patient ratios, which is an issue of ultimate concern to front-line nurses."
Among Birmingham’s accomplishments, the MNA cited: his efforts to help override a gubernatorial veto so that every child in the Commonwealth would have access to health insurance; his work to help create Prescription Advantage, the nation’s strongest prescription drug program for seniors; his strong support for recent legislation that has been passed to create a Patients Bill of Rights under managed care; a law providing whistle blower protection for health care workers, and his efforts to prevent a number of community hospitals from closing. Specifically, the MNA cites support he gave to campaigns to save Quincy Medical Center, Hale Hospital (now Merrimack Valley Hospital) and Whidden Hospital, a facility now part of the Cambridge Health Alliance.
Click here to view detailed listing of Tom Birmingham’s health care/nursing accomplishments
MNA member and Whidden nurse Joanne Bartoszewicz worked closely with the Senate President during the campaign to save Whidden Hospital and has high praise for his efforts. "As the registered nurses, physicians and citizens were fighting the closing of Whidden Hospital, we knew we could count on the support of Tom Birmingham. It was through Tom’s persistent efforts that we were able to win our fight for survival. Those efforts were a victory for the right to health care for our patients, the community and nursing."
The Birmingham health care plan includes a section to "respond to the nursing crisis and other workforce challenges," with a series of proposals that will "strengthen efforts to recruit, retain and train a diverse workforce of nurses and other health care professionals and workers at every skill level, and will push for changed to retain those valued health care providers by improving working conditions." Specific proposals include:
- Keep nurses in the profession by ensuring safe registered nurse to patient ratios so that the working conditions of nurses are improved and they can provide the quality of care they are trained to provide.
- Forge educational partnerships between hospitals and colleges to strengthen the availability of nursing faculty.
- Ensure that state health care funding is used to provide health care services and is not used to fund anti-union efforts or other activities that do not directly improve patient care.
- Continue to invest in career ladder programs and in the training of potential health care workers to improve patient access to health care services.
According to Sandy Ellis, Chair of the MNA’s political action committee who spoke at the rally today, "The members of the MNA strongly encourage the voters of Massachusetts to join us in support of Tom Birmingham. For the people of the Commonwealth who have ever been a patient, or could be a patient in the future, or who need access to the health care system for any reason, there is no greater advocate than Tom Birmingham."
She added that the MNA will support its endorsement with a grassroots effort to mobilize its membership to actively participate in the Birmingham campaign, through letter writing, sign holding, phone banking and other activities to help him win the Democratic primary in September."