News & Events

MNA Nurses and Healthcare Professionals to Testify July 6 on Legislation to Establish a State Receivership Process for Hospitals Threatened with Closure, Prevent Homecare Violence, and Reduce Patient Handling Injuries

As communities in Leominster, Taunton, and across Massachusetts fight back against hospital service closures, proposed MNA bill would give DPH power to take over hospitals or free-standing clinics to preserve patient access

Legislation backed by MNA nurses and healthcare professionals would enhance workplace safety standards for homecare clinicians and require healthcare facilities to adopt safe patient handling and mobility programs

BOSTON, Mass – The ongoing efforts by nurses, healthcare professionals, and Massachusetts communities to preserve patient access to essential healthcare services would be bolstered by legislation giving the Department of Public Health the ability to place into state receivership hospitals or free-standing clinics that are pending closure.

The bill, along with other legislation on homecare violence and patient handling safety, will be the subject of a July 6 hearing by the Joint Committee on Public Health. It takes aim at a broken hospital closure process that allows healthcare executives to shutter services even when deemed necessary by DPH. The legislation joins another bill backed by the Massachusetts Nurses Association and previously heard by state lawmakers that would overhaul the hospital closure process and give the public and the Attorney General additional powers.

A diverse group of nurses, patients, community members, and elected officials testified during a June 20 State House hearing about the proposed hospital closure overhaul bill and the threatened closure of Leominster Hospital’s Birthing Center – the only maternity program serving the gateway cities of Leominster and Fitchburg. A grassroots coalition, “Community United to Save Our Birthing Center,” is dedicated to waging a campaign to convince UMass Memorial Health and CEO Erik Dickson of the need to preserve this vital service for vulnerable mothers and newborns in these communities.

“We are proud to stand with our community partners and advocate for patient access to essential healthcare – however, it is the weakness of our current system that requires us to fight so hard against hospital closures,” MNA President and ICU nurse Katie Murphy said. “The Department of Public Health is toothless when it comes to halting a hospital closure, even when the agency goes through a hearing process and determines the hospitals are necessary. We believe the DPH should be required to have a receivership process for hospitals threatened by closure.”

Legislative Hearing Details

When: Thursday, July 6, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: Room A-2, State House, Boston. Virtual hearing access for media/public: Link will go live for the video shortly before the hearing.

Who: Nurses, healthcare professionals, elected officials and other advocates testifying at the State House and virtually.



An Act Preserving Access to Hospital Services (S.1406/H.2143), sponsored by Senator Paul Mark and Representative Pete Capano

There is currently no mechanism to keep a hospital open even if the DPH deems it necessary to the community. In 1960, Massachusetts had 141 hospitals and a population of 5.15 million. Today, we have about 60 hospitals serving a population of 6.9 million.  Closings and consolidations have been rapid. Since 2014, three acute care hospitals have closed in the Commonwealth, leaving communities without equitable access to essential health services.

In 2014, North Adams Regional Hospital closed with just three days’ notice despite enormous community opposition, leaving the remote Berkshire County community with only a standalone emergency department. The hospital closed despite DPH ruling its healthcare services necessary. Then Partners Healthcare closed Lynn Union Hospital after it was deemed necessary by DPH in 2016. Quincy Medical Center was shuttered in 2014 – leaving Quincy as the largest city in Massachusetts without its own hospital – even after DPH declared the hospital’s services were “necessary for preserving access and health status.”

Legislation Details:

  • Requires the Department of Public Health to establish a process for state receivership of a hospital or free-standing clinic that is pending closure.


An Act Providing for Safe Patient Handling and Mobility (S.1436/H.2247), sponsored by Senator Susan Moran and Representative Sarah Peake

Nurses and other healthcare workers suffer more musculoskeletal injuries than any other profession. This leads to increased direct and indirect costs associated with related injuries, loss of staff and decreased care for patients. It results in longer patient stays and poorer patient outcomes due to a lack of mobility.

As nurses move patients – each lifting 1.8 tons during an average shift – they are being injured at precipitous rates. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overexertion injury rate for hospital workers is 68 per 10,000. This is double the average overexertion injury rate across all industries of 33 per 10,000. Solutions have been proposed by both a state task force and the MNA, and yet the hospital industry has failed to act.

Patients also have less ability to enhance their recovery by moving quickly and frequently when they do not have access to safe patient handling equipment. A report by the Joint Commission said, "Patients are also at risk of multiple injuries and adverse events related to handling procedures. These include pain and discomfort as well as anxiety connected with being moved."

The state Department of Public Health has published a detailed report nearly a decade ago on safe patient handling with recommendations that mirror the solutions in this legislation. A task force created by DPH issued the report in 2014, making clear both the scope of the patient handling problem and the hospital industry's unwillingness to implement comprehensive injury prevention programs.

Legislation Details:

  • Requires healthcare facilities to adopt and implement a safe patient handling and mobility program to identify, assess, and develop strategies to control risk of injury to patients and healthcare workers associated with the lifting, transferring, repositioning, or movement of a patient or equipment.


An Act Providing Safeguards for Home Healthcare Workers (S.1472/H.2128), sponsored by Senator Walter Timilty and Representative Bruce Ayers

As the amount of care delivered in the home increases, so has the level of violence in this setting. In 2021, as many as 44% of home healthcare workers have reported being physically assaulted. Workers who provide health care in the home setting face many safety risks because they: Work alone, even in high-risk areas; may be exposed to a variety of potentially serious or even life-threatening hazards including guns and other weapons, illegal drugs, and the presence of unexpected and potentially dangerous individuals.


Legislation Details:

  • Requires safety assessments of all home healthcare settings prior to services being provided.
  • These assessments would include the current psychiatric/psychological/emotional status of patients and any other individuals who may be present.
  • Any criminal history of patients or other individuals who may be present as well as the surrounding environment and the presence of any weapons.
  • Home healthcare providers would be empowered to leave dangerous situations without loss of pay or disciplinary action and would be provided time off for healthcare workers assaulted on the job to address legal issues.


This legislation joins additional MNA-backed workplace violence bills that would make meaningful, measurable, and enforceable improvements by requiring healthcare facilities to partner with frontline staff on prevention plans, provide greater support for those affected by violence, and strengthen the criminal penalty for assaulting a nurse or healthcare worker.


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Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 25,000 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 healthcare issues affecting nurses and the public.