Mass General Brigham management has refused to agree to widely accepted social distancing standards on shuttles
BOSTON, Mass. – Mass General Brigham is operating shuttles for nurses and other staff members at Brigham and Women’s Hospital significantly outside widely accepted safe social distancing standards during the COVID-19 pandemic and has refused to implement a 50% capacity limit that would better limit the risk of exposure to nurses and their patients.
A Crosstown Brigham and Women’s Hospital shuttle on the evening of June 22.
Brigham nurses represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association and elected by their 3,400 RN colleagues have brought their concerns about the shuttles to hospital management multiple times. Management has refused to implement the 50% capacity limit and take responsibility for clearly communicating shuttle service availability to Brigham staff.
“Crowded shuttles are completely unnecessary and are placing Brigham nurses at higher risk for COVID-19 exposure while we try to safely care for patients,” said Trish Powers, Brigham OR RN and Chair of the MNA Bargaining Committee at the hospital. “The hospital is telling the public it is doing everything to keep patients, families and staff safe but will not even commit to a basic social distancing standard. Nurses jammed into shuttles, crowding each other as they ride across the city, is an avoidable and unacceptable danger to the safety of nurses and patients.”
- A review of shuttle services by MNA on June 15, 16 and 17 showed nurses and other staff crowding onto shuttles with all seats or nearly all seats taken and then nearly empty shuttle buses pulling up right afterward.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital shuttles at Crosstown as they filled with hospital staff. Pictures taken by MNA June 15, 16 and 17.
- Instead of directing BWH nurses to the appropriate shuttles to be able to maintain social distancing, MGB personnel at shuttle sites actually encouraged nurses to stay on crowded shuttles. There is no social distancing standard being enforced and crowding varies widely among shuttles used by Brigham nurses.
- Adhering to social distancing guidelines is a widely accepted safety standard during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- State guidance, as published May 1, says, “Practice social distancing at all times by remaining 6 feet away from others when you have to leave your home for essential trips.”
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends trying to keep at least six feet away from other people not in your household on all forms of transportation.
- The CDC also advises riders to “Consider skipping a row of seats between yourself and other riders if possible.”
- This safety standard could reasonably be attained by MGB.
- MASCO, a shuttle company serving the Longwood area that staff at other hospitals and some Brigham staff use, has been adhering to social distancing guidelines by taping off every other seat on shuttles and posting signage.
MASCO shuttles at Crosstown. Pictures taken by MNA June 15, 16 and 17.
- In its own FAQ for patients and visitors, BWH claims to be ensuring the shuttles are “as safe as possible” and says shuttle seats are marked “to manage capacity.” In reality, many shuttles are completely full.
- The FAQ actually says that MASCO shuttles are running at 50% capacity and Brigham shuttles are running at 75% capacity “with one passenger per seat.”
Brigham notice about MGB and MASCO shuttles posted at Crosstown, left. MGB school bus shuttle arriving as full MGB shuttle departs Crosstown. Pictures taken by MNA June 15, 16 and 17.
- MGB says it has obtained school buses for its most popular routes of Chestnut Hill, Crosstown and Faulkner. Yet without a standard of 50% capacity and clear communication by Brigham management, many nurses are crowded onto shuttles with every seat full.
Read more about MNA nurses and healthcare professionals and COVID-19 at www.massnurses.org/COVID-19.