News & Events

MNA Nurses and Coalition Against Closure of Essential Providence Hospital Mental Health Beds to Hold Springfield Press Conference June 4

06.02.2020

 

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Mercy Medical Center and Providence Behavioral Health Hospital nurses, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association and joined by a large coalition of families, advocates and colleagues, will hold a press conference on Thursday, June 4 outside the office of the board chair in downtown Springfield.

The coalition will call on the board of directors to fulfill its duty to represent the needs of local community members and to protest the proposed closure of 74 child and adult psychiatric beds at Providence and the unfair treatment and unsafe conditions perpetuated by Trinity Health at Mercy during the pandemic.

Press Conference Details

Date: Thursday, June 4

Time: 2 p.m.

Location: Outside the office of Trinity Health of New England and Mercy Medical Center Boards of Directors Chair Paul Mancinone at 1441 Main St., Springfield – across from Monarch Place

Details: A socially distanced event. Speakers include nurses and other healthcare workers from Mercy and Providence, a Providence Hospital patient family member, additional advocates

On June 1, the state Department of Public Health published Trinity Health’s response to the agency’s finding that the Providence services are “necessary for preserving access and health” on June 1. 

“Trinity’s response to DPH fails to grapple with the devastating loss eliminating these beds will inflict on families across an entire region,” said Cindy Chaplin, RN at Providence and Co-Chair of the MNA Bargaining Committee. “Getting the message that these beds are essential to so many families through to a billion-dollar corporation based in Michigan is an immense challenge, and so we are calling on local board members to represent the public health needs of their communities. The chair of the board tasked with making sure the hospital fulfills its healthcare mission has come out in favor of the closure. Others have remained silent. This is unacceptable to those of us who believe the duty of a hospital’s board is to provide local oversight and ensure access to safe, quality care.” 

“Trinity’s behavior is actually making it harder for staff to safely care for patients and support our families during this pandemic,” said Alex Wright, RN and Co-Chair of the MNA Bargaining Committee at Mercy Medical Center. “They are not listening to nurses and healthcare workers on the front lines and are ignoring the concerns expressed by members of our community and elected officials.” 

On May 15, the state Department of Public Health found the 74 beds are “necessary for preserving access and health,” and that owner Trinity Health must prepare a plan showing how it will maintain access to inpatient psychiatric and pediatric services, and reveal information about how it sought psychiatrists before deciding to close beds. The DPH finding followed a virtual public meeting in which nurses and healthcare professionals, patients, elected officials and residents advocated to keep the beds open to ensure access to quality, specialized psychiatric treatment.  

Trinity has also not consistently provided proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to staff at Mercy, has not appropriately isolated COVID-19 positive patients and suspected COVID-19 patients, and has cancelled or laid off staff rather than provide fair redeployment and paid time off protocols. 

These conditions came into stark view in April when the Boston Globe published an article about Mercy ICU nurse Lindsay Manning. Despite being six months pregnant and expressing concerns about her health and health of her unborn child if she were exposed to COVID-19, Trinity management would not guarantee Manning work separate from infected patients. Then Manning became symptomatic and tested positive. 

Mental health is public health and the closure of these services at Providence would have a devastating impact on our communities. The lack of quality inpatient mental health services and the impact of that shortage on patients, their families and communities has been widely documented. The child psychiatric beds in particular are extremely essential. The closest inpatient child mental health services to Providence Hospital are more than an hour drive away in Worcester. There are child and adult patients waiting in emergency departments across Massachusetts for mental health beds like those at Providence, including at Mercy Medical Center. 

A large coalition of nurses, healthcare professionals and other advocates held a socially distanced picket outside Mercy Medical Center on May 7 to protest how Trinity Health is treating its staff during the COVID-19 pandemic and its proposed bed closures.

Trinity’s plan would put additional strain on a system facing a public health crisis in COVID-19. Patients should not have to choose between seeking mental healthcare in an emergency department full of potential COVID-19 patients and not receiving care at all.

The way Trinity has responded to COVID-19 has exacerbated the risk associated with closing these beds. Trinity has not provided proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to staff, has not appropriately isolated COVID-19 positive patients and suspected COVID-19 patients, and has cancelled or laid off staff rather than provide fair redeployment and paid time off protocols. These failures mean that patients receiving inpatient care at Providence could re-enter the community as a result of the closure and spread the virus.

Read more about Trinity’s failure to protect and support staff during the pandemic: https://www.massnurses.org/news-and-events/p/openItem/11656

Read more about the issues surrounding Trinity’s proposal to close behavioral health beds and services: https://www.massnurses.org/news-and-events/p/openItem/11693

 

 

FPO