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Precarious Berkshire VNA Staffing Levels Prompt Nurses and Healthcare Professionals to Deliver Petition to BHS CEO Ahead of October 23 Bargaining Session

Data shows a loss of 29 staff in 22 months, with 90% reporting unsustainable work life balance and many leaving for higher pay

A petition signed by 82% of BVNA clinicians seeks a fair contract with a wage step scale and realistic productivity standards to ensure patient care access and quality

PITTSFIELD, Mass. –Berkshire Visiting Nurse Association (BVNA) nurses and healthcare professionals, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA), are delivering a petition signed by 82% of BVNA clinicians on the morning of Monday, October 23 to Berkshire Health Systems CEO Darlene M. Rodowicz as the clinicians prepare for another negotiation session seeking a fair MNA contract.

The petition emphasizes the fact that the BVNA has experienced a significant loss of permanent staff since at least December 2021, destabilizing homecare service access and posing a serious risk to continuity of patient care. BVNA nurses and healthcare professionals are calling on BHS to agree to a wage step scale and realistic productivity standards to stem the flood of staff departures and ensure access to high-quality homecare throughout Berkshire County.

  • According to records kept by staff members, the agency has lost 29 permanent staff since December 2021.
  • 90% reported leaving because of an unsustainable work life balance.
  • 66% reported they were resigning without another job lined up. Of the staff who transitioned to another job, 84% reported receiving a pay increase with their new job, and 67% went to BMC.
  • In December 2021, the agency had 1,748 hours of staff time available for care, including three travelers.
  • In June 2023, right before the BVNA closed admission for patients in towns across Berkshire County in July, the agency had 1,382 hours of staff time available for care, including seven travelers.
  • As of October 2023, during the time when the BVNA announced it would resume services in those affected towns, the agency had only 1,206 hours of staff time available for care, including eight travelers.

“We are dedicated to our work,” BVNA nurses and healthcare professionals wrote in their petition. “However, BHS management is proposing to further increase our workload. Any changes to productivity standards require giving us both the time and resources we need to care for our patients. It is also critical that BHS agrees to a fair and transparent wage step scale to help with recruitment and retention. We have lost too many colleagues recently who were looking for better pay and more sustainable working conditions.

“The best path forward for patients, clinicians, and the agency is to settle a fair contract that includes:

  • A wage step scale of the kind that MNA-represented nurses and health professionals have in every collective bargaining agreement throughout the Commonwealth. This will enable the BVNA to have enough clinicians to care for patients throughout our service area.
  • Productivity language that reflects the reality of homecare today and allows us to spend an appropriate amount of time providing patient care and support and documenting.”

BVNA registered nurses, and physical, occupational and speech therapists joined MNA in December 2021 following an election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. Berkshire VNA is owned by Berkshire Health Systems, which also owns Berkshire Medical Center where the MNA represents approximately 900 registered nurses.

The medical needs of Berkshire VNA patients are varied and complex and may include, among other things, post-surgical conditions such as total hip or total knee replacements; stroke; Parkinson’s Disease; Multiple Sclerosis; Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS); cardiopulmonary conditions; amputations; and post-trauma care (breaks, fractures). In recent years, many hospital-based services for patients have shifted to in-home services, making VNAs and their caregivers an essential and ever-expanding part of the healthcare system. Hospitals now move patients back home faster than before as doing so reduces costs and opens in-hospital beds. This has led to a dramatic increase in the size of the region’s at-home patient population as well as in the complexity of those patients.



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.