It is with deep sadness that the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United shares the loss of long-time Board Member and passionate patient/nurse advocate Diane Michael, who died unexpectedly on July 6.
Diane Michael was a true champion for her profession, a fierce protector of the nurses she led as chair of her MNA/NNU bargaining unit and an unrelenting advocate for the highest standards of care for patients suffering with acute behavioral health conditions.
Born in Springfield, MA, on May 16, 1951, a loving daughter of the late Mark J. Jr., and Patricia (Dowd) Michael, she was raised and educated in East Longmeadow, before becoming a longtime resident of Springfield.
In paying tribute to this great friend and advocate the information below is taken from an application submitted on Diane’s behalf for an award she was nominated for by her longtime colleague Marilyn Hernandez, RN.
Diane received her nursing training at Boston Children’s Hospital graduating in 1974. She began working in Pediatrics at the Providence Hospital in 1974 where the MNA was already representing nurses. She joined the MNA negotiating committee in 1976 and has been an active member continuously since then. In 1996, Providence Hospital closed as an acute care medical facility to reopen as Providence Behavioral Health Hospital where Diane moved to the Adult Psychiatric unit on the 11-7 shift. By this time, Diane had been an MNA co-chair. When her long time co-chair retired, Diane remained as the sole MNA Chair.
Diane’s strong commitment to the Labor Relations Program has been exemplified by her participation within her local unit at Providence, and extending to her many roles on the regional, state and national arenas. As Chairperson at Providence Hospital, she was often the first face of the MNA to new members or to members who needed to file a grievance where she remained with them every step of the way. Diane was a leader at the monthly committee and labor-management meetings, the regular membership meetings, and the contractually negotiated monthly Safe Staffing and Violence Task Force meetings. She had a strong and distinctive voice on her floor and for the nurses in the bargaining unit as a whole.
Diane’s support for the MNA was unwavering. As an 11-7 nurse, she often had to juggle between all her MNA work and sleeping. Traveling to the MNA Canton office at least monthly, she had been an elected member on the MNA Board of Directors since 2004 and was the Chair of the Board of Directors Policy Committee. She was also active in the MNA-PAC and has participated in the legislative briefings that occurred locally in Region 1. Diane was a fixture on the picket and /or strike lines and was a mover and shaker when it came time for MNA to disaffiliate from the ANA years ago, and in the recent fight for the MNA Safe Staffing and MNA Transparency Ballot Initiatives. Nationally, Diane was an NNU Delegate from 2009-2012 where she attended events throughout the country including rallies, meetings and legislative and lobbying events.
She was a selfless, constant advocate for both patient and workplace safety, and for safe staffing in every area of the hospital. She was a colorful person, with a big heart and a great sense of humor. A strong voice for justice and fairness, her dedication reached beyond the nurses and she was instrumental in helping the mental health counselors at Providence organize and ultimately vote to be represented by the UAW. Diane always strove for unity and equality for every person.
Diane was a fearless leader, and her leadership skills were valuable in our facility where there is a constant turnover in hospital management resulting in a lack of institutional memory. The nurses were fortunate to have Diane’s experience, dedication, and long standing strong continuity in her message and actions.
Diane is survived by her loving siblings, her brother, Patrick J. Michael of Springfield and sisters Carol Anzalotti and her husband, Neal, of Las Vegas, NV and Donna Birtwell and her husband Jonathan of East Longmeadow; her nieces and nephews, Jonathan Birtwell and his wife Kirstin, Cortney and Matthew Birtwell, Margaret Michael, Mark Michael and Kathryn Miller and her husband Andrew. Diane was also predeceased by her brother Mark S. Michael in 2004.
Calling hours for Diane will be held on Friday, July 11 from 1-5 p.m. at Hafey Springfield Chapels, 494 Belmont Ave., followed by a Prayer Service at 5 p.m. in the funeral home. Burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations in Di’s memory can be made to the Dakin Humane Society PO Box 6307, Springfield, MA.