When: Thursday, November 8, 2012
Time: 2 – 4:30 p.m. (We expect the largest turnout to be at 3:30, the change of shift)
Where: Outside the Entrance to UMass Memorial Medical Center’s University Hospital campus at the corner of Belmont and Plantation Streets in Worcester.
Hundreds of nurses who work at the Worcester-based hospital campuses of UMass Memorial Medical Center (UMMMC) will conduct informational picketing outside the UMMMC University Hospital campus (on the corner of Belmont and Plantation St. in Worcester) to call for desperately needed improvements in patient care conditions at this major tertiary care provider.
The picketing was called after the 2,000 nurses represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association on the University Hospital and Memorial/Hahnemann campuses of UMMMC have been engaged in nearly a year of negotiations for a new union contract, with little progress on a number of key issues, including the nurses’ call for safer RN staffing levels. The nurses are outraged about deteriorating working conditions, a lack of resources, and untenable patient loads following more than six layoffs involving hundreds of RNs and support staff over the last two years.
UMMMC has gone from having the best RN staffing levels in the city to now having the worst RN staffing for most of their units. These staffing levels have had a demonstrable impact on the systems’ quality of care. Last month a report by the federal Medicare program showed that the UMass system was listed among the 10 hospitals in the state receiving the highest penalties by the government for poor patient care, specifically for the rate that UMass patients are readmitted to the hospital post discharge because of preventable complications related to their care. Studies have shown that RN staffing levels are directly related to hospital readmission rates.
Adding insult to injury, in addition to forcing nurses to work under increasingly stressful and dangerous conditions, UMMMC management is also seeking to gut the nurse’ benefits package. Once again UMMMC wants to cut the nurses pension benefit, an issue that drove the University-campus nurses to wage a five-hour strike back in 2007. Management also wants to increase the cost of the nurses’ health insurance and to cut their time off benefits. These cuts are being made in the wake of the hospital’s posting more than $87 million in profits in the past two years.
In response, the nurses are asking the hospital to retract their demands for benefits concessions and to provide contractually guaranteed RN to patient ratios. These ratios are based on the best scientific evidence for quality patient care and, in the case of the maternity and neonatal units, are the nationally accepted standards of best practice.