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MNA to Boycott Sen. Moore/Becker College Oct. 28th Nursing Symposium, Plan Protest/Press Conference (9 a.m.) Outside Event

Nurses View Program as a Sham & Soapbox for Mass. Hospital Association Position Opposing Bill to Set RN-to-Patient Ratios

CANTON, Mass.—The Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA), along with nurses, community and labor groups from throughout Central Mass. will conduct a demonstration outside what has been billed as a “Symposium” on competing measures to deal with a growing staffing crisis in Massachusetts hospitals, which is being co-sponsored by State Senator Richard Moore (D-Uxbridge) and Becker College of Worcester. Picketing of the symposium will take place outside Becker College’s Boutin Student Center on Oct. 28, 2005, at 44 West St. in Worcester at 8 a.m., with a press conference and rally at 9 a.m.

The MNA rejected an invitation to participate in the event, calling it a “sham” created by Senator Moore, the Massachusetts Hospital Association and UMass Memorial Health Care as part of their campaign to derail legislation that would require hospitals to provide safe RN-to-patient ratios as a means of protecting patients and improving the quality of patient care in the state’s hospitals.

“Instead of participating at the event inside the college, members of the MNA, along with other supporters, plan to picket the event and hold a rally on the street outside the college where frontline nurses “will voice our opinion about the true nature of the nursing crisis, and convey to the public what ‘real nurses’ know to be true about the crisis in nursing in the Commonwealth: that there must be a limit to the number of patients a nurse is assigned at one time,” said MNA Executive Director, Julie Pinkham, RN in a letter to Becker College President Kenneth Zirkle.

According to the MNA, “the Becker symposium is neither unbiased nor balanced. Instead, it appears to be what it is: a forum in which to support and disseminate the hospital industry’s position on this issue…Your co-sponsor and keynote speaker, Senator Richard Moore, serves as the lead sponsor and chief proponent of legislation filed by the hospital industry in opposition to RN-to-patient ratios.”

Central to the MNA’s criticism of the event is its highlighting of a controversial report generated by UMass Medical School at the behest of Senator Moore.

UMass Medical School is closely allied with one of the state’s largest hospital networks—the UMass Memorial Health Care system—which includes the UMass Medical Center, UMass Memorial Hospital, and UMass Marlborough – all MHA affiliates. This connection, along with Senator Moore’s sponsorship of MHA’s legislation, creates a clear conflict of interest, and obviates any claim of objectivity by the study’s authors. Regrettably, the report is a sham, containing glaring inaccuracies, misrepresentations and lacks substantive data collection. It reads as though it was written by the MHA, as, in effect, it was, according to the MNA.