Patient and Staff Safety Paramount in Agreement
The North Shore Medical Center Hospital (Salem Hospital) Registered Nurses represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association have approved a new contract that will protect the safety of patients and staff. Under the 3 year agreement, recently approved by the 600 member bargaining unit, the hospital has a greed to institute a float pool of nurses that will be available to cover when the acuity raises on units or for units with a higher than normal level of nurse illness. “The float pool will allow the hospital to move the experienced float pool nurses to units where they are most needed. Hopefully this will allow the patient to staff ratio to stay at a safe level, even when a crisis hits,” said Fran O’Connell, RN and Co-Chair of the bargaining unit.
Another key item in the settlement is new contract language that helps to guarantee the safety of the Registered Nurses on the campus. While the nurses and management have had many conversations about safety and protection of nurses, for the first time there is now language in the contract that will allow grievances to be filed over safety issues. According to Joanne Raby RN and Co-Chair of the bargaining unit having contract language was the next logical step, “We have had a history of beneficial discussions and we feel management is committed to protecting the safety of nurses, but we feel it is of utmost importance that nurse safety issues become an enforceable part of the contract.”
The three year contract will bring a wage increase of about 14% that makes the nurses the highest paid on the north shore. The RNs are especially proud of this wage scale because it will allow the hospital to retain and recruit the most qualified and experienced nurses in the area thereby protecting the high quality of care at Salam Hospital.
The nurses are very gratifies that they were able to protect their retirement and health care benefits by adding and protecting language that call for negotiations over any changes in either benefit.
In the end the nurses saw some very positive outcomes from the seventeen negotiating sessions over the last six months. “It was a long and tough process but in the end we felt we were able to protect the interests of our members and the patients. This contract will allow us to continue to deliver quality health care on the north shore for the nest three years,” said Co-Chair Fran O’Connell.