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Quincy Medical Center nurses reach deal with hospital owner Steward

PatriotLedger.com, 6/13/13

by Fred Hanson 06/12/2013 - 9:24 PM EDT

QUINCY

Nurses at Quincy Medical Center have reached a one-year agreement on wages and staffing with Steward Health Care.

In a joint press release, Steward officials and the leadership of the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United said the agreement affirms their mutual commitment to the hospital’s viability and staffing levels that assure quality patient care.

“This agreement sets a blueprint for the future and increases awareness of the great care provided at our hospital, said Daniel Knell, president of the Quincy Medical Center.

Paula Ryan, a nurse at the hospital for 45 years and unit chair of the nurses union, said the agreement makes the nurses “pleased and hopeful.”

“They have heard our issues,” Ryan said. “We’re pleased they recognized our issues and that we can provide the quality of care to our patients.”

Nurses at the hospital staged a one-day strike at the hospital in April.

The one-year agreement, which was ratified by the membership of the nurses union Monday, includes a wage freeze for the nurses and allows managers a limited increase in the use of per-day and variable-hour nurse positions. The use of these nurses will be based on the number of patients being treated at the hospital.

It also creates a “swing unit” for patients from the emergency room who are awaiting admission to the hospital.

The joint statement said the agreement includes “an enforceable commitment to staffing on in-patient units to ensure safe patient care.”

Ryan said the nurses are “hopeful we can work together on this.”

Knell said the hospital is committed to “high quality, safe patient care.”

“I believe that working together with the MNA we can become the hospital of choice for residents of the Greater Quincy area,” he said.

Ryan said the dispute “was never about the money. It was always about staffing and our goal of ensuring that patients receive the best care possible.”

She pointed out that the nurses at the hospital have not had a raise in five years and have always been willing to make financial sacrifices to ensure the success of the hospital.

“We want to keep the hospital in the community, and the nurses and employees are very loyal to the hospital,” she said.

The hospital went through bankruptcy in 2011 before being acquired by Steward. Both sides hope the agreement will help draw more patients to the hospital.

Ryan said a tentative agreement was reached June 3 after a weekend of intense negotiations.

The nurses have been working without a contract since 2011, and Ryan said talks toward a full contract are continuing.

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