MNA Nurses Deliver Petition to Baystate Noble Hospital Presi

|Mar 11|magazine12 min read

WESTFIELD, Mass., March 11, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Registered nurses who care for patients at Baystate Noble Hospital left a petition signed by 95% of the hospital's RNs for President Ron Bryant on Wednesday, March 11, asking that he hold a public meeting about the future of the hospital as Baystate repeatedly erodes staffing levels and cuts services, lengthening patient wait times, increasing boarding and jeopardizing the quality of care for patients in many hospital units.

"Baystate Noble nurses and our community are united when it comes to preserving and improving patient care services at our hospital,' said Paul Dubin, RN and Co-Chair of the MNA Bargaining Committee at Baystate Noble Hospital. "Baystate has not been transparent about how it plans to fulfill its obligation to meeting the healthcare needs of our patients, their families and our communities. We are urging President Bryant to hold a public meeting about the future of Baystate Noble Hospital."

Baystate has been eliminating services and cutting back on staffing levels as the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and other public health concerns such as the seasonal flu and the Commonwealth's mental health crisis shine a light on the need for local healthcare services with high-quality staffing and care conditions.

Baystate closed the intensive care units at Baystate Noble and Baystate Wing Hospital in Palmer last August, and continues to seek a partner to open a new mental health facility and close the Fowler Unit at Baystate Noble as well as all the mental health beds at Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield and at Wing Hospital. Last fall, Baystate also merged Noble's 2N medical-surgical unit with telemetry and cut a majority of 2N staff.

Baystate Noble Hospital nurses are in contract negotiations for their agreement that expires on March 31, 2020. They have made proposals reflecting concerns about the future of Baystate Noble Hospital and the quality of staffing and patient care.

Among the nurses' concerns:

  • On the Medical-Surgical 2N/tele unit there have been more unsafe staffing forms filed by nurses than ever before.
  • Rather than a five-patient assignment, as had been previous practice, 2N nurses are being regularly assigned six patients. Years of scientific studies show four patients is a safe limit in these types of units. The more patients beyond four that nurses are assigned, the harder it is for patients to effectively monitor, intervene as appropriate and educate each of their patients.
  • Due to the staff shortage on 2N, patients are boarding longer in the ED waiting for beds.
  • There is higher RN turnover in the unit.
  • The loss of the Noble ICU has driven down hospital census and caused patients to wait in the Noble ED for transportation to Springfield.
  • DPH determined the Noble ICU is an essential service. The Westfield area community deserves local access to critical care services.

Among the nurses' proposal themes:

  • Improve conditions for staff and patients and protect Noble's future
  • Preserve the Fowler (mental health) unit and expanding services to increase the amount of mental health care available locally
  • Re-open the Noble ICU
  • Restore positions that were eliminated from the 2N Medical-Surgical unit
  • Commit to not layoffs and no service cuts. There are jobs elsewhere available for nurses, but staff cuts erode service quality and leads to even more elimination of services.
  • Baystate should recruit an intensivist physician to open the ICU and make it available on a consistent basis.

The Baystate Noble Hospital RN petition reads:

"To: Ron Bryant, Baystate Noble Hospital President

"We, the registered nurses of Baystate Noble Hospital, are committed to achieving a contract that improves nurse recruitment and retention and protects access to the high-quality care our team provides our patients every day. In 2019, Baystate eroded the care we are able to provide by closing our intensive care unit, cutting a majority of our 2N medical-surgical staff, cutting a day from our perioperative schedule, and threatening to close Fowler. As a result of these changes, an unprecedented number of patients are boarding in the Emergency Department. It's simply unacceptable.

"We support our MNA bargaining committee's request that you take immediate steps to schedule a public meeting with community members, elected officials and hospital staff to discuss Noble's future. In the past, Baystate has made unilateral decisions, deciding to remove care options without seeking public input, and then closing those services even after the Department of Public Health has deemed them essential. Baystate's lack of transparency and their decision to eliminate, consolidate and degrade local care cannot continue. 

"Please let our bargaining committee know how you plan to address these issues."

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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.

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SOURCE Massachusetts Nurses Association