SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The registered nurses of Vibra Hospital, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, will advocate for their patients following the announced closure of Vibra Healthcare’s Springfield campus, urging the company and state authorities to ensure that an especially vulnerable population of patients receives equal or better care.
“This is a huge loss for our community,” said Vibra Hospital RN Denise Chlastawa, a 33-year employee at the hospital and member of the MNA Bargaining Committee. “Many of our patients require long-term, complex medical care that they may not be able to find elsewhere in Western Massachusetts.
“We care for patients who need highly in-demand psychiatric services and patients with acute health conditions requiring interventions such as dialysis, blood transfusions, telemetry and complicated medications. Our patients are severely sick and deserve to receive equal or better care.”
Vibra Hospital, formerly Kindred Hospital, has a long history in Springfield. The hospital was originally Springfield Municipal Hospital and has been providing care to members of the community since 1952. There are 61 MNA members, including 14 who have cared for patients at the hospital for 15 years or more.
Hospital management met with MNA members on Thursday to discuss the closure and then met with the MNA Bargaining Committee on Friday. The focus of the conversations was on ensuring continuity of care to patients. Nurses also discussed how Vibra could assistant patients and staff with the transition.
In a letter to the MNA dated November 15, Vibra Hospital of Western Massachusetts, a division of the national company Vibra Healthcare, announced plans to close its Springfield campus, including its psychiatric facility, nursing home behavioral health unit and a long-term, acute care hospital. Vibra stated that the reasons for closure included changes in reimbursement, a decrease in referrals from acute care hospitals and an inability to maintain the facility.
Vibra provided an initial 30-day notice of its intent to file a 90-day notice of intent to close with the state Department of Public Health. Following the issuance of the 90-day notice, DPH will publish a public notice and schedule a public hearing.
Vibra said it intends to keep open its New Bedford and Rochdale locations. Vibra, headquartered in Mechanicsburg, PA, operates 92 facilities in 18 states, according to its website. The for-profit company makes more than $100 million annually in revenue.
Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 23,000 members advance the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public.