News & Events

Nurses union upset with staffing at Brockton mental health facility

By Alex Bloom
Enterprise Staff Writer

State nurses union to meet with state officials about Brockton mental health facility
Leaders of the state’s nurses union will sit down with the state mental health commissioner to discuss conditions at the Brockton Multi-Service Center, which they say is “dramatically understaffed.”

Union officials say staffing problems at the state-operated Brockton Multi-Service Center at 165 Quincy St. developed over the last few months and were exacerbated as the state closed the building’s 24-hour crisis services unit on Christmas Day and redirected any potential mental health patients to Norton.

“They’ve been understaffed for months,” said David Schildmeier, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Nurses Association. “We’ve been complaining and warning that something is going to happen.”

Schildmeier said that union officials will sit down with Marcia Fowler, the state’s mental health commissioner, next week to discuss the Brockton problems.

Anne Roach, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department of Health, would not confirm the meeting or address the specific issues in a statement to The Enterprise.

“The Department of Mental Health is deeply committed to providing comprehensive services to individuals with severe and persistent mental illness whom we serve,” Roach said in an email on Wednesday. “The safety of our clients is the highest priority in all decisions that we make, including staffing. The region was adequately staffed for the holiday and returned to full capacity today as scheduled.”

The Brockton Multi-Service Center’s crisis services unit can serve up to six mental health patients at a time and has nurses working 24 hours a day in three eight-hour shifts.

Roach did not provide specific dates of the consolidation of services with the state’s Norton facility. She said the consolidation was made to allow staff to spend the holidays with family.
Schildmeier said that if facilities needed to be consolidated, it should have been in Brockton.
“The state is not providing enough services, so because of that, they’re depriving the community at a time when – let’s face it – depression is on the rise,” Schildmeier said.

The center, which has been in Brockton for more than 30 years, also offers outpatient services and community-based flexible support services. The center takes in patients that have all forms of mental illness, including suicidal patients and those experiences hallucinations.
Schildmeier compared the problems with the Brockton facility’s staffing to attempts by the state to close the Taunton State Hospital, which he feels is very important to the mental health community.

“It’s just another example of how irresponsible the state has been in providing mental health services,” Schildmeier said.