Labor and Health Care Issues
Nurses and Community to Hold Patient Safety Vigil April 5 in Greenfield Ahead of One-Day Strike at Baystate Franklin Medical Center
GREENFIELD, Mass. – The registered nurses of Baystate Franklin Medical Center, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, will hold a Patient Safety Vigil on Thursday, April 5 as part of ongoing actions leading up to their potential one-day strike on April 11.
Patient Safety Vigil
What: BFMC nurses and community members will gather to talk about patient care
conditions at the hospital and urge Baystate to agree to reasonable patient safety
improvements as part of a fair contract.
When: Thursday, April 5 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Where: Greenfield Town Common
“Baystate Franklin Medical Center is a community hospital, funded by public dollars, and our patients have a right to receive the high-quality care they pay for,” said RN Donna Stern, Senior Co-Chair of the BFMC RN Bargaining Committee. “If Baystate can afford to pay its CEO more than $700 an hour, it can afford to make reasonable improvements to patient care.”
Data provided to the state’s Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) show that 69% of BFMC’s revenues come from public taxpayer sources – Medicare and Medicaid (Source: http://www.chiamass.gov/assets/docs/r/hospital-profiles/2016/franklin.pdf).
On March 26, BFMC nurses provided the hospital more than the 10-days’ strike notice required by law. A 24-hour strike is scheduled to start at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, April 11 and end at 7 a.m. on Thursday, April 12 unless Baystate agrees to a fair contract that improves nurse staffing and patient care conditions.
On February 8, BFMC nurses voted by 85% to authorize a potential one-day strike. A strike planned for February 28 was postponed when Baystate agreed to return to the bargaining table. Nurses hoped this postponement would open space for negotiations to proceed toward a fair agreement. The parties met several times after the postponement and reached compromises on some issues, including health insurance, but Baystate refused to make any commitments on real improvements to RN staffing and patient care.
Why Inadequate RN Staffing is a Patient Care Problem:
- Because of chronic short staffing, nurses are working while exhausted. According to data provided to the MNA by Baystate, in the most recent 12 months ending 3/1/2018:
- There were 2,885 shifts of 12 or more hours and 486 shifts of 13 hours or more. Shifts longer than 12 hours are against national best nursing practices.
- There were 751 shifts in which a nurse was scheduled to work 8 hours but worked 12 hours or more. Of those, 191 lasted 13 hours or more.
- There were 36 shifts of more than 16 hours. All RN shifts over 16 hours are illegal in Massachusetts.
- The longest uninterrupted shift was 19 ½ hours.
- In total, there were 14,947 overtime shifts (excluding shifts less than 8 hours 10 minutes)
- Baystate has marketed its 2017 iVantage Health Analytics score, placing BFMC in the top 100 rural and community hospitals in the United States. Except BFMC actually received NEGATIVE scores for patient outcomes from iVantage last year. In fact, scores that helped place BFMC in the top 100 were about its “financial stability” and “market share.”
- This makes sense when you consider the federal government cut Medicare payments to BFMC last year because of its high rate of patients acquiring infections at the hospital.
Safe Patient Care Solutions
- BFMC nurses are seeking a commitment that in some units charge and admissions nurses will be without a patient assignment throughout their shift. These positions are vital as they effectively coordinate patient care and assist where needed as well as make certain admissions are handled in a safe, consistent and prompt way. Among other things, having admissions processed in a timely way helps prevent long waits and hallway boarding in the ED.
- Charge nurses need to be able to effectively coordinate care and to assist other nurses. If their patient assignments are eliminated or reduced but their fellow nurses have even heavier patient assignments, the problems nurses have identified for years will worsen.
- Baystate Health has the financial means to provide safe staffing and fair RN benefits and wages. It ended 2014 and 2015 with a combined $121 million in profits, according to the state. During fiscal year 2016, BFMC alone reported $2.2 million in profits.
- Baystate CEO Dr. Mark Keroack made $1,472,000 in fiscal year 2016, which is $707.69 per hour.
BFMC nurses held a one-day strike on June 26, 2017 after voting by a 93% margin to authorize the strike. The nurses were preemptively locked out of the hospital by Baystate management, who kept the RNs from caring for their patients the evening before the strike. The lockout lasted for two days following the strike and involved Baystate spending $1 million to hire replacement nurses from outside the community instead of allowing BFMC nurses to care for their patients once the strike concluded.
Following the strike, Baystate gave its “best and final” to BFMC nurses on July 21. BFMC nurses voted to reject that offer on August 15. The MNA has filed more than 20 unfair labor practice charges against Baystate on behalf of BFMC nurses for, among other reasons, failing to bargain in good faith over mandatory subjects of bargaining such as nurse workload and health insurance.
BFMC nurses began negotiating for a new contract in November 2016 to replace the contract that expired Dec. 31, 2016. A federal mediator is involved in negotiations.
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.