The nurses are concerned that these cuts are being made in the wake of the hospital's posting more than $87 million in profits in the past two years, even after the hospital was fined more than $1 million by the state's Attorney General for perpetrating a scam of insurance companies for having high priced models dressed in blue wigs parading though shopping malls to lure unsuspecting consumers into undergoing overpriced bone marrow testing.
"It is unacceptable that nurses and our patients are being forced to pay the price for penalties incurred by our leaderships' mismanagement and shady dealings," said Ellen Smith, an intensive care unit nurse and co-char of the MNA bargaining unit for the nurses on the University campus.
In response, the nurses are asking the hospital to retract their demands for benefits concessions and to provide contractually guaranteed RN to patient ratios. Those ratios are based on the best scientific evidence for quality patient care and, in the case of the maternity and neonatal units, on nationally accepted standards of best practice.
"Nurses at this hospital provide 90 percent of the care our patients receive. Most of us have spent decades in these institutions and want UMass to return to what it once was, which was the flagship system in the region, if not the state," McLoughlin concluded. "Because of our commitment to our patients, this community and our professional license, we are determined to do whatever is necessary to ensure the safety of our patients and the dignity of our nurses."The nurses and management began negotiations for a new union contract in February 2012 for the University campus nurses, and in November 2011 for the Memorial/Hahnemann campus nurses. To date 18 sessions have been held with the Memorial campus committee and 15 sessions with the University committee. The nurses' contracts officially expired on December 31, 2011 and April 5, 2012 respectively, and the next negotiating session is scheduled for November 9, 2012. Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is the largest professional health care organization and 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. The MNA is also a founding member of National Nurses United, the largest national nurses union in the United States with more than 170,000 members from coast to coast. SOURCE Massachusetts Nurses Association