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Strong Majority of Springfield City Council Sign Letter Supporting MNA Baystate Home Health Nurses’ Effort to Secure a Fair Contract to Improve Conditions for Nurses, Patients and Community

Baystate Health insists on cutting nurse sick time and making other contract proposals that would diminish the quality of working conditions and the ability of nurses to provide the best possible care to home care patients

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Nine out of 12 current Springfield City Council members have signed a letter addressed to Baystate Health CEO Dr. Mark Keroack urging him to reach an agreement with Baystate Home Health nurses that values their dedication and allows them to provide safe patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

"I am the son of a home health nurse and if this pandemic has shown anything, it is that we should not be taking those on the frontlines for granted,” said Marcus Williams, President of the Springfield City Council. “Every time they've entered a home during this pandemic, they've put their own well-being at stake. Our nurses not only deserve a fair contract but one that sets the example for how much we value their service. Without these nurses, the health of those who need home services would fail. We cannot afford that reality like we cannot afford to lose these hidden gems of our community."

"Nurses are critical to the safety and quality of our healthcare system, and they deserve pay and benefits that recognize and respect their contributions and sacrifice, especially, but not only, during the COVID-19 Pandemic,” said At-Large Councilor Jesse Lederman, who Is Chairman, Health and Human Services Committee.

The letter reads, in part, “We have heard from nurses about their concerns as they try to negotiate a new contract and support them in trying to reach a fair agreement. The nurses at Baystate Home Health have put their health at risk and provided exceptional care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Home Health nurses are on the frontlines all the time. They are out in our communities caring for people with complex medical needs, enabling patients to remain at home and stay safe. This is no time to try and take hard-earned benefits away from our frontline workers.”

The following Springfield City Councilors have signed the letter: Marcus Williams, President; Tracey Whitfield, Vice President; At-Large Jesse Lederman; At-Large Councilor Justin Hurst; At-Large Councilor Sean Curran; At-Large Councilor Kateri Walsh; Ward 3 Councilor Melvin A. Edwards; Ward 4 Councilor Malo Brown; and Ward 6 Councilor Victor Davila. Please email for a copy of the letter.

The MNA represents 27 nurses who work for Baystate Home Health caring for patients in Springfield, South Hadley, West Springfield, Longmeadow, East Longmeadow and Wilbraham and Hampden.

“We have put our health at risk and try our hardest every day to provide exceptional care during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Heather Rising, a nurse with Baystate Home Health and Co-Chair of the MNA Bargaining Committee. “We care for people with complex medical needs who are being sent home from the hospital sooner and sooner. Many times, they do not have anyone at home to care for them and we are their lifeline. Our work enables patients to remain at home and stay safe.”

“Baystate Health is failing to support nurses and our patients by contributing to high levels of turnover,” said Cristina Ribeiro, a nurse with Baystate Home Health and Co-Chair of the MNA Bargaining Committee. “We cannot recruit and retain the nurses we need to care for patients because Baystate has made our working conditions worse and worse. Now, at the bargaining table, Baystate is trying to cut our sick time and other benefits, while also refusing to propose a fair wage increase. This would mean more nurses would leave Baystate Home Health and it would be even harder to get nurses to care for our patients.”

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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.