Delegation of RNs to Present Petitions Signed by Hundreds of Staff Members To Hospital Acting CEO Joseph Ciccolo at 3 pm on Thursday, March17
Nurses Believe Cuts in RNs and Support Staff will Negatively Impact the Quality of Care
BROCKTON, Mass.—Registered nurses, health care professionals and other employees at Caritas Good Samaritan Medical Center (GSMC) in Brockton are mobilizing to oppose recently announced cuts in staffing for all areas of surgical services, which the nurses believe "will result in deterioration in the quality of care for patients" undergoing surgery at the hospital.
As part of this effort, a delegation of employees including registered nurses from the Massachusetts Nurses Association local bargaining unit at GSMC, will deliver petitions with hundreds of employee signatures to acting CEO Joseph Ciccolo, at a meeting on Thursday, March 17 at 3 pm.
The petitions, which are addressed to Robert M. Haddad, MD, President and CEO of Caritas Christi Health Care, state: "We the undersigned caregivers and staff of GSMC call upon the administration of Caritas Health Care to stop its plans to make dramatic and devastating cuts in registered nurses and other valuable support staff in all areas of surgical services…These cuts were made by outside consultants who never met with or discussed these changes with front-line caregivers at our facility."
The cuts, which were first announced to the nurses on March 2nd, appear to be proposed by Caritas Christi on the corporate level, based on the recommendations of a high priced health care consulting firm, Applied Management Systems, Inc. (AMS). The reductions would result in the loss of more than 250 hours of RN nursing care per week (the equivalent of six full-time RNs), including 88 hours per week cut from Same Day Surgery, 64 hours from the operating room, 64 hours per week from the recovery room and 35.5 hours from endoscopy services.
The nurses are particularly surprised and outraged by the cuts as they come on the heels of a meeting with management in early March where both parties agreed that there were a number of issues of concern in the surgical areas of the hospital related to understaffing of RNs. This was reinforced by a recent, highly publicized job fair at the hospital where operating room nurses were being recruited. Operating room nurses are among the most highly touted and sought after nurses in the health care job market.
"These layoffs make no sense given the current shortage of nurses, especially perioperative nurses in the current health care climate. We are convinced that the impetus for these shortsighted cuts is part of a larger corporate agenda being driven by Caritas Christi, based on its financial troubles and not on what the patients of this hospital actually require," said Karen Gavigan, co-chair of the RN bargaining unit and a nurse in the Same Day Surgery Department. "As nurses, we want our management and the public we care for to understand that we are already staffed at a bare bones level and there is no justification for any reduction in our staffing, not without jeopardizing our ability to maintain the quality of care that people of this community expect."
AMS is one of a number of national consultants notorious for recommending deep cuts in hospital staffing to cut costs. These practices were previously tried at Good Samaritan Medical Center during the 1990’s and failed. Recent scientific research has clearly demonstrated that cuts in RN staffing lead to increases in patient complications, injuries to patients, medication errors and even patient deaths. According to a report by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, hospitals that cut nurse staffing were less profitable and efficient, and conversely, hospitals that had healthy RN staffing had lower costs and higher profits.
AMS makes its recommendations for cuts in hospitals based on a comparison of current staffing levels with its own database of staffing levels from across the nation. When it deems a hospital to be above what AMS considers to be a reasonable level, they recommend cuts to hospital staffing. The company prides itself on applying "industrial engineering" processes to hospitals.
"Hospitals are not factories and patients are not widgets. The AMS approach is to bring staffing in hospitals to the lowest common denominator," Gavigan said. "We believe staffing and patient care should be based on what patients need, not on what this glorified accounting firm says it should be."
The nurses’ union has made an official request to receive a copy of the full AMS report upon which the cuts were based. It intends to continue efforts to educate the public about the impact of the cuts and what they would mean to quality and safety of patient care.