HOLYOKE, Mass. –The 91 registered nurses represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association at Providence Behavioral Health Hospital will publicly protest cuts to essential child and elder psychiatric services by hospital owner Trinity Health during an informational picket on Thursday, Aug. 9.
What: Nurses and supporters will protest patient care and staff reductions that are contrary to Trinity’s stated mission to “stand with and serve those who are poor, especially those most vulnerable.”
When: Thursday, Aug. 9 from 2 to 5 p.m.
Where: In front of Providence Behavioral Health Hospital at 1233 Main St, Holyoke, MA
“Simply put, despite its enormous profits Trinity Health is reducing the quality of care for children and elderly patients at Providence Hospital,” said Cindy Chaplin, RN and Co-Chair of the MNA Bargaining Unit. “Trinity has the resources and the mission to provide quality care. Instead Trinity has made cuts to child and elder psychiatric care providers that restrict access and mean patients receive a lower quality of care.”
Patient Care Reductions
- In April 2018, Trinity Health closed 12 of 24 beds in the child and adolescent psychiatric unit at Providence Hospital for renovations. Trinity has since refused to re-open the beds and instead cut staff who care for children.
- The beds are currently licensed by the department of Mental Health and necessary for young children who need an environment dedicated to age-appropriate behavioral health care. Trinity claims renovations are ongoing, but nurses have not seen work happening and Trinity will not re-open the beds.
- Instead, in the remaining 12 beds, Trinity has merged services for children as young as five, six and seven years old with services for adolescent and teenage patients, many of whom are being treated at Providence for violence and/or sexual problems.
- Trinity’s recent patient care staff cuts have also impacted elder psychiatric services. Now nurses on the elder unit during the day are expected to care for eight patients at one time, up from six, and as many as 16 patients at night. This reduced level of care threatens the safety of a vulnerable population and the quality of elderly patients’ treatment outcomes.
“Children across Massachusetts are waiting in emergency departments for acute behavioral health care and Trinity is cutting those services at Providence Hospital,” said Marilyn Hernandez, a Providence RN who works in the child and adolescent unit. “Imagine if your child needed specialized psychiatric care to feel better and they couldn’t get it because a giant corporation made a business decision instead of following its non-profit mission.”
Existing Lack of Child and Elder Psychiatric Care
The cuts to staff that will reduce care for child and elderly patients at Providence Hospital come as these services are already difficult to find:
- Last month, the Boston Globe reported that “Some patients with mental illness, particularly children, are spending days stuck in tiny windowless rooms in hospital emergency departments waiting for treatment…” https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/07/17/long-waits-persist-for-children-mental-health-crises/iD2trxkXIlYtqmsuoqTWII/story.html
- The National Council on Aging reports that “Two-thirds of older adults with mental health problems do not receive the treatment they need. Current preventative services for this population are extremely limited.” https://www.ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-facts/healthy-aging-facts/#intraPageNav2
- The Massachusetts Department of Mental Health details the long wait times for mental health treatment for children, many of whom wait days in emergency departments for inpatient care. Children wait 4 or more days for inpatient mental health care 3 times as often as adults: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dmh/publications/acute-inpatient-services-special-populations.pdf
- A 2013 New England Journal of Medicine article noted the “silver tsunami” of aging adults who will have mental health problems but a lack of treatment availability: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1211456#t=article
- Harvard University researchers in 2015 found there are an estimated 101 “stuck kids” waiting in emergency departments for mental health care in Massachusetts: https://www.hks.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/degree%20programs/MPP/files/15%203%20MPP_PAE_Emily%20Hartmann%20Katherine%20Schiavoni_StuckKids.pdf
- A MassLive.com article describes the mother of a 6-year-old in Berkshire County struggling to find timely mental health services for her son and details statewide data showing psychiatric patients face long waits for treatment: https://articles.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/12/massachusetts_children_with_me.amp
Trinity Health Finances
Trinity Health operates 94 hospitals and 121 continuing care facilities in 22 states. Trinity has a workforce of 131,000, annual operating revenues of $17.6 billion, and assets of $23.4 billion, according to Trinity.
The Springfield Republican reported on August 1 that Trinity Health made $1.3 billion in excess revenue over expenses, a 7.1 percent margin, in fiscal year 2017, according to the Center for Health Information and Analysis, an independent state agency.
Providence Behavioral Health Hospital is the premiere private behavioral health facility in Western Massachusetts, serving all ages with inpatient and outpatient services. The 104-bed hospital is the largest provider of behavioral health services in the region. The hospital’s services include acute substance abuse and opioid treatment, along with inpatient adult, adolescent and child psychiatric services.
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.