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Residents, Patients, Community Leaders, and Legislators to Join Oct. 30 Community Forum that is Focused on Protecting Patient Care at Leominster Hospital

Community expected to turn out in force to air concerns, learn how to mobilize to oppose dangerous changes to how patient care is delivered

After months of trying to fight off dangerous cuts to both staff and patient care services at Leominster Hospital, the registered nurses working there, who are affiliated with the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United (MNA/NNU) along with concerned community members and public officials, are holding an open community forum to discuss their concerns directly with those who have the most to lose: patients and local residents.

What:     An open community forum to Protect Patient Care at Leominster Hospital
Where:   The Leominster Veterans Center located at 100 West St., Leominster
When:    Thursday, Oct. 30 from 6 – 8 p.m.
Who:      Residents and former patients from Leominster, Fitchburg, and surrounding communities who are concerned about keeping quality patient care at Health Alliance Leominster Hospital. Attendees will have ample opportunity to voice concerns, ask questions, and offer suggestions on how the plan to protect patient care at Leominster Hospital should next unfold.

The forum panel will include nurses, patients, community leaders, and local firefighters/first responders; legislators — including, Sen. Jen Flanagan, who is a panelist — will also be in attendance and are expected to speak.

Members of the hospital’s Board of Trustees have also been invited to attend the forum. That invitation was extended to the board last week in the form of a letter from the MNA/NNU nurses working at Leominster Hospital.

Panel members and forum participants will be available for media interviews.

Background:    Hospital management recently began laying off emergency department RNs as part of the dangerous cost-cutting plan it announced nearly five months ago. In addition to reducing RN staffing in the ED, the hospital plans to increase nurses’ patient assignments on the night shift from five to six, and to merge the pediatric, labor and delivery, and maternity units  a first-of-its-kind move for a Massachusetts hospital and one that goes against what the professional standards for maternity and pediatric care show is best. Nurses are also concerned about how proposed cuts in support staff will affect the care of ED-based psychiatric patients. All of these changes will lead to longer wait times for patients, more boarding of patients, and the likelihood that a patient will suffer a complication because of these dramatic new delays in care.

Since these plans were announced in the spring, nurses have been unyielding in their efforts to get the hospital to reconsider its decisions: from meeting/negotiating with management and leafleting the community, to organizing a petition campaign and sitting down with elected officials. In response, Health Alliance CEO Deborah Weymouth has refused to meet with the nurses to hear their concerns and she has proceeded with the hospital’s plan, a plan the nurses believe will degrade the care for every patient entering the hospital.