Includes improvements in RN staffing with safe limits on nurses’ patient assignments, reasonable wage increases, and benefit protections
Leominster, MASS. — The registered nurses at Leominster Hospital, who are organized with the Massachusetts Nurses Association, and UMass Memorial HealthAlliance reached a tentative agreement today on a three-year contract that improves RN-to-patient staffing inside the hospital and patient safety overall.
The settlement came at the end of the parties’ eighteenth negotiation session — the first of which was held in September of 2014 — and less than a week after the nurses held a vote authorizing a one-day strike.
“As we said last week, no RN ever wants to strike,” said Natalie M. Pereira, RN and chairperson of the MNA bargaining unit. “But we were willing to move in that direction if we had to. Instead, we are proud to announce that, while meeting with hospital management yesterday, we were able to reach across the table, shake hands, and agree to new language that will give our patients long-term access to the quality of nursing care they have come to rely on from their community hospital.”
Highlights of the tentative agreement include:
- Language that will limit nurses’ patient assignment to no more than five patients at a time.
- Language that will add new nursing positions throughout the hospital, including STAT nurses whose role will be to respond to urgent patient needs throughout the hospital whether due to patient care or census changes.
- Language that will guarantee that charge nurses, including charge nurses in the hospital’s critical care unit (CCU), will not carry a patient assignment which, as a result, will leave them available to manage the overall needs of the CCU’s patients, nurses, and the unit’s flow
- Protection of benefits for all RNs.
- Reasonable wage increases for nurses, including a lump sum bonus of 1 percent when the contract ratifies and a 2 percent increase over the life of the contract
A date to ratify the agreement by the membership has yet to be determined, but the contract will expire two years from the date the contract is officially ratified.