Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Feb 11: Tufts Medical Center and Boston Medical Center Nurses Hold a Joint Informational Picket to Protest Unsafe Staffing and Practice Conditions


(This post taken from the Massachusetts Nurses Association website)

Tufts Medical Center and Boston Medical Center Nurses Hold a Joint Informational Picket to Protest Unsafe Staffing and Practice Conditions

Demonstration responds to a growing trend by the hospital industry to exploit the economic climate, by cutting nursing care to boost profits at the patient’s expense

When: Thursday, February 11, 2010
BMC Picket: 7:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Tufts Picket:2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Where: Boston Medical Center, 88 East Newton St., Boston; Tufts Medical Center,750 Washington St, Boston

The registered nurses of Boston Medical Center’s East Newton Campus and Tufts Medical Center, who are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, are taking the unprecedented step of conducting joint informational picketing outside their respective facilities on Feb. 11, 2010 to protest what they believe are dangerous changes in RN staffing levels, which will result in nurses caring for too many patients at one time and could compromise the quality of patient care.

This job action is not related to an ongoing contract negotiation (both groups have contracts in place) and this protest has nothing to do with the nurses’ wages or benefits. It is about nurses’ concern for the health and well being of the patients under their care.The nurses at these facilities are facing what is becoming a growing trend as the hospital industry attempts to exploit a challenging economic climate to cut costs and to boost their profit margins by cutting nursing staff. The same tactics were employed during the 1990s. At that time this response to the advent of managed care, resulted in a dramatic deterioration in the quality and safety of care in hospitals and also resulted in thousands of preventable patient deaths across the country.Nurses, who have been through this failed strategy before, are not going to allow hospitals to make the same dangerous mistakes again without a fight.This picket is the beginning of that effort.

Boston Medical Center, which is a level one trauma center, and Tufts Medical Center, which has a level one pediatric trauma and level two adult trauma center, care for some of the sickest patients in the Commonwealth, requiring a more intense level of nursing care to keep patients safe.At current staffing levels, nurses contend it has been a struggle to provide the level of care patients deserve.Now, both hospitals are proposing staffing changes that increase the number of patients assigned to many of their nurses, and neither facility is adequately adjusting their level of nursing care based on “patient acuity,” which is the actual needs or illness level of the patients.At both facilities, nurses believe management is pushing staff to move patients through the hospital faster and faster without providing the resources to support this speed up in care delivery.

At both facilities, hospital and nursing administrators have refused to fulfill legal obligations to work with the nurses to address nurses’ concerns about working conditions that affect patient safety or patient care.While nurses understand the strictures of the current economic climate, they also believe patients should not pay the price for misguided decisions to cut costs by decreasing the presence of the RNs at the bedside.

For specific details on staffing changes at both facilities, or to interview nurses about this issue prior to the picket contact David Schildmeier at 781-249-0430 or via email at dschildmeier@mnarn.org.