The registered nurses of UMass Memorial Clinton Hospital, who are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, were informed this week of a pending consolidation of two patient care units, which will result in the reduction in the number of beds at the facility and a layoff that will impact a number of staff throughout the hospital.
Last Friday, the hospital sent letters to 21 nurses at the hospital who work on the hospital’s 18 bed medical-surgical unit and 9-bed specialty care unit of management’s intention to combine these two units into one unit, going from 27 beds to 18 beds, with the option of adding three additional beds if needed. A total of 54 nurses work at the hospital. The plan calls for the elimination of 3.5 full time equivalent (FTEs) nursing positions, which will result in significant bumping among nurses, impacting nearly every nurse in the hospital. The announcement comes after a year of turnover among the nursing leadership, where nurses have seen a lack of communication, a decrease in staff morale, and now, the turmoil of a major reorganization.
“Nurses are frustrated and concerned about this change, not only in terms of its impact on their work life and job security, but on their ability to provide the quality care they have always prided themselves on delivering at this tight knit community hospital,” said Maryellen Thompson, RN, co-chair of the nurses’ MNA local bargaining unit at the hospital, and one of the nurses impacted by the layoff. “Now you will have nurses who have spent years as a telemetry nurse caring for a certain type of patient forced to work in a new area, where she/he is less experienced, which can’t help but disrupt the quality of care.”
Thompson also pointed to the lack of leadership at the top and the resulting lack of communication over the past year as a contributing factor to nurses’ frustration at the hospital. “We have had two directors of nursing join the hospital and then leave within the last year, with no continuity to our nursing program, and little communication with staff about our mission here at Clinton Hospital. A number of good nurses have already left the institution due to these conditions, and now the entire nursing workforce is being turned upside down.”
The changes at UMass Memorial Clinton Hospital represent the latest in a series of service closures and staff layoffs throughout the UMass system, which has resulted in a system-wide degradation in the quality and safety of patient care, resulting in UMass Memorial affiliated hospitals registering some of the highest rates of patient readmissions in the state. These changes have been made while UMass Memorial has posted profits of more than $130 million over the last two years.
The proposed consolidation is slated to be implemented in May or June. In the meantime, the MNA will be meeting with the hospital to discuss the ramifications of the layoff and bumping process, with the goal of preserving as many hours and positions for nurses as possible, as well as to ensure the least disruption in patient care.