WORCESTER, MA – The registered nurses of UMass Memorial Medical Center Memorial/Hahnemann campus voted yesterday to ratify a new three-year contract with UMMMC management that provides the significant staffing improvements nurses sought to ensure that their patients receive quality care at this level one trauma center.
“We are pleased that our membership has ratified this important contract, as it includes safer staffing levels with limits on nurses’ patient assignments that will ensure our patients receive better care,” said Lynne Starbard, RN, co-chair of the local bargaining unit of the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United, which represents more than 900 nurses covered by the new three-year contract. “This is truly a win for everyone involved, as the medical research clearly shows that when nurses have fewer patients care improves, and hospitals save millions of dollars due to shorter hospital stays, fewer readmissions, fewer complications in care and higher patient satisfaction.”
Highlights of the agreement include:
• Contractually guaranteed limits on nurses’ patient assignments for nurses working on the medical surgical units, including no more than five patients on days, an average of five patients on evenings and a mix of five and six patient assignments for nurses on nights.
• Contractually guaranteed limits on assignments for “charge nurses.” These are nurses who guide the flow of patients on each floor and also assist other nurses with more complex patient situations.
• Improved RN-to-patient ratios in the hospital’s maternity and neonatal intensive care units, as well as new staff in the emergency department to assist with more critically ill patients.
• To support the new staffing limits, the hospital has committed to hire a significant number of nurses, with all these positions being phased in over a 6-month period following ratification.
• Nurses will receive a 1 percent across-the-board salary increase retroactive to Jan. 1, 2012, a 1.5 percent increase on Jan. 1, 2013 and a 2 percent increase on Jan. 1, 2014.
“We are very proud of this agreement, and we salute the nurses who fought so long and hard to make it possible,” said Colleen Wolfe, RN, co-chair of the bargaining unit. “From the beginning, our goal was to ensure safer care for our patients with limits on nurses’ patient assignments, and we have achieved that goal not only for the nurses, but more importantly, for the patients we care for every day.”
The UMMMC nurses began negotiations for a new contract in November of 2011, and finally reached an agreement on May 17, a week before they were set to conduct a one-day strike.