News & Events

Nurses speak out about staffing conditions

(NECN: Kenneth Craig, Worcester, Mass.) – Outside Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester Wednesday, union nurses spoke out about what they say are dangerous patient conditions at area hospitals.

"Staffing conditions at this hospital are deplorable. Nurses are caring for too many patients on a daily basis, " said Marlena Pellegrino, who has been a nurse at Saint Vincent Hospital for the last 32 years.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association held two events Wednesday: one outside Tufts Medical Center in Boston, the other outside Saint Vincent in Worcester.

Union leaders are hoping to rally support for proposed legislation: two separate bills that would set patient limits for nurses and end mandatory overtime requirements at hospitals. They say the problem is statewide.

"They need to know that patients are suffering, that the industry is out of control and that we need to do something," Massachusetts Nurses Association Vice President Karen Coughlin said.

Following their rally, some of the nurses boarded a chartered bus headed for Beacon Hill where they’ll try to convince lawmakers to help take on the fight. It’s something they’ve done time and time again over the last 15 years.

"Just recently over the last few years it passed two years in a row in the house but it didn’t get through the senate," Coughlin said.

According to the MNA, Saint Vincent has some of the most dangerous conditions in the Bay State. But in a statement released by a Saint Vincent spokesperson, the hospital is proud of their patient safety record and the MNA statements, "have more to do with their contract and their proposed state-wide nurse/patient staffing legislation than patient safety at Saint Vincent Hospital."

"In fact, Saint Vincent Hospital is one of the few hospitals in the state with staffing guidelines written into its contract with the MNA and stringent restrictions on mandatory overtime."

Contract negotiations are ongoing at the hospital. The next round of talks will be held the afternoon of Wednesday, January 19th.

MNA nurses say if things don’t eventually change they may be forced to strike.