WHAT: Rally to Support Morton Hospital Caregivers
WHEN: Thursday, January 13; 3:30 to 5 p.m.
WHERE: The Taunton Green, at the Center of Taunton, Mass.
WHO: State Senator Marc Pacheco; State Representative Carol Doherty; Taunton City Councilor Philip Duarte; Taunton City Councilor John McCaul; healthcare advocates; Morton Hospital nurses and healthcare professionals; and local families, friends, and neighbors
Historically known as a vital community hospital staffed by local nurses, healthcare professionals (HCPs), and other caregivers, Steward Morton Hospital in Taunton, Massachusetts, is now in the dire position of being understaffed as too many local caregivers choose to work elsewhere. As a result, the 403 members at the hospital, who the Massachusetts Nurses Association represents, are being proactive and together with community leaders and community members are heading to the streets on Thursday, January 13, to do two things: To show appreciation for the outpouring of thanks that the community has offered them, and to ask for the community’s help in asking the executives of the hospital and its owner Steward Healthcare to do everything in its power to keep healthcare professionals local by providing the support they deserve and that is needed to retain to recruit staff.
There are 190 job vacancies at the hospital, and the number of national “travel nurses” who are temporarily filling some vacancies is costing the hospital exorbitant amounts of money when competitive wages could help stabilize the flow of local community healthcare workers who are deciding to work elsewhere.
These improvements include overdue wage enhancements that will make Morton competitive with other hospitals, as well as improvements to on-site safety and security measures. The latter issue has been a growing concern with the opening of new units and greater violence in a pandemic-stressed society.
Where are the RNs and HCPs?
A recent audit of its Taunton-area membership (1) by the MNA showed that at least 35% of its nearby members bypass Morton Hospital for jobs at other unionized Boston-area hospitals where the pay is significantly higher, or 63% if Brockton hospitals are included.
“We are now living in a crisis-within-a-crisis,” said Jenn Roderiques, RN and bargaining unit vice-chairperson. “For almost two years, we have fought off wave after wave of COVID-19 and successfully cared for our patients with professionalism and compassion. But as time went on, we began bleeding staff … staff who were beaten down, overwhelmed, under-supported, and overworked. People don’t have an endless capacity to work in conditions like that.”
“Management needs to rise to the occasion and offer real solutions that will make the lives of our staff and the patients we care for better,” added Roderiques. “We want the hospital to be staffed by local people who know the hospital and the community instead of traveling employees with no community ties.”
Morton Can Afford to Do Better
According to CHIA Hospital Profiles for 2020, released 9/21/2021:
Added Roderiques, “Given the current unsustainable costs of training/replacing nurses, paying travelers, paying for extra shifts, and covering overtime costs, Morton cannot afford not to address these underlying compensation issues. We want to make Morton the best possible place for RNs and Healthcare Professionals to provide and for patients to receive care.”
- Area includes Attleboro, Berkley, Bridgewater, Dighton, Easton, Fall River, Freetown, Lakeville, Mansfield, Middleborough, Norton, Raynham, Rehoboth, Taunton, and West Bridgewater.
Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is the largest registered nurse union in 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 lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public.