After Posting More Than $88 Million in Profits UMass Memorial Medical Center Has Slashed its Nursing and Support Staff in the Last Two Years and Has Gone From Being the Best Staffed Hospital in the City to the Worst, While Also Posting Among the Lowest Rankings in the State for Quality Patient Care While Forcing Nurses to Work Under Rapidly Worsening Conditions, UMMMC Management is Adding Insult to Injury By Seeking to Cut the Nurses' Pension, Health Insurance and Time Off BenefitsWORCESTER, Mass., Nov. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Carrying signs that read "safe staffing equals quality care, safe staffing now and staffing cuts hurt us all," hundreds of nurses who work at the Worcester-based hospital campuses of UMass Memorial Medical Center chanted and marched in front of the system's University Medical Center campus today to call for desperately needed improvements in patient care conditions at this major tertiary care provider. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20060525/NETH016LOGO) The picketing was called after the 2,000 nurses represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association on the University Hospital and Memorial/Hahnemann campuses of UMMMC have been engaged in nearly a year of negotiations for a new union contract, with little progress on a number of key issues, including the nurses' call for safer RN staffing levels. The nurses are outraged about deteriorating working conditions, a lack of resources, and untenable patient loads following more than six layoffs involving hundreds of RNs and support staff over the last two years. "We are out here today to alert the public about our concerns for their safety in the wake of unprecedented and unwarranted cuts to RN staffing levels on both campuses of the UMass Memorial system," said Margaret McLoughlin, RN, a nurse in the intensive care unit and co-chair of the Massachusetts Nurses Association local bargaining unit representing more than 1,000 nurses on the University hospital campus. "We are here to tell you if UMass management has its way, there may not be a nurse at your bedside when you need one. Their desire to boost profits by cutting your care could ultimately cost your life." According to official staffing plans posted on the Mass. Hospital Association's "Patient Care Link" web site. UMMMC has gone from having the best RN staffing levels in the city to now having the worst RN staffing for most of their units. These staffing levels have had a demonstrable impact on the systems' quality of care. Last month a report by the federal Medicare program showed that the UMass system was listed among the 10 hospitals in the state receiving the highest penalties by the government for poor patient care, specifically for the rate that UMass patients are readmitted to the hospital post discharge because of preventable complications related to their care. Studies have shown that RN staffing levels are directly related to hospital readmission rates.