BOSTON, Mass. – The registered nurses of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, will hold an informational picket on Wednesday, Nov. 15. The action is not part of ongoing contract negotiations and is instead aimed at shining a spotlight on patient care problems in the operating room, post-surgical units, the NICU and other areas of the hospital.
“The Brigham Way is safe, high-quality patient care at all times, in every hospital unit,” said Patricia Powers, OR RN and Chair of the MNA BWH Bargaining Unit. “The Brigham Way is about treating nurses as professionals, respecting our contribution to patient care and valuing nursing education. It is about making decisions that benefit patients, not decisions based on how to maximize the profits of Partners HealthCare.”
Time: 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Date: Wednesday, Nov. 15
Location: Outside BWH at 75 Francis St.
Since January 2017, Brigham nurses have filed at least 200 reports documenting times when patient safety was jeopardized because there were not enough RNs or support staff available. This problem is so prevalent that Brigham management uses an “Amber” disaster code when there is not enough staff available, forcing RNs and other employees to remain at the hospital. Brigham management used its code “Amber” most recently on Wednesday, Nov. 8 because it did not have enough staff to safely care for its patients.
Despite making huge financial gains this year, spending $465 million on a new headquarters and millions more on various expansion projects, and paying Brigham President Dr. Elizabeth Nabel $2.1 million, BWH and Partners HealthCare have made staff cutbacks and other decisions that have made it more difficult for patients to receive the high-quality nursing care they deserve.
Brigham nurses are asking hospital management and Partners to Bring Back the Brigham Way by addressing ongoing patient safety problems, including:
- Unsafe patient care. Nurses have encountered a dramatic increase in the number of unsafe patient care situations in recent months. These are times when there are not enough RNs or other staff available to safely care for the patients on a particular hospital unit. Nurses have filed an increasing number of reports documenting these problems, including at least 200 since January 2017.
- Elimination of the nurse educator role. Nurse Educators play a vital role at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. They train and support staff nurses, enabling nurses to provide the kind of world-class patient care the public expects.
- Proposed PACU/Day Surgery/Pre-Op merger. This means RNs without critical care experience caring for very ill post-anesthesia patients.
- Unsafe conditions in the Operating Room and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. In the NICU, poor communication and unsafe medical care have contributed to a hostile environment and compromised patient outcomes. Inadequate OR staff means less education for new RNs, higher infection rates, lost specimens, near misses, etc.
“Eliminating nurse educators is one of the worst decisions the Brigham has made in recent months,” said Kelly Morgan, CWN RN and Vice Chair of the MNA BWH Bargaining Unit. “The Brigham earned its reputation as one of the best hospitals in the world by providing nurses with expertise and highly specialized training to care for our region’s most seriously ill patients. In the past, that was all that mattered. We considered this the ‘Brigham Way.’”
The informational picket is not part of contract negotiations. Brigham nurses are still working under the terms of the contract they ratified in July 2016 after they successfully averted what would have been an historic one-day nursing strike. Their current contract doesn’t expire until September 30, 2018.