Press Release

Lawrence Gen. Hospital RNs to Hold June 26 Informational Picket to Appeal for Safer Patient Care

RNs Appeal for Safer Patient Care Conditions and Fair Contract

Talks Stall Over Unsafe Patient Assignments For Nurses, Dangerous Staffing Practices and Benefit Cuts
When: Thursday, June 26 from 2 – 4 p.m.
Outside the entrance to Lawrence General Hospital (on the corner of Marston and General Streets.)
What: In response to excessive patient assignments for nurses and the hospital’s refusal to provide safe RN staffing to ensure appropriate patient care, the registered nurses of Lawrence General Hospital plan to conduct an informational picket outside the entrance to the hospital on Thursday, June 26 from 2 – 4 p.m. to take their concerns directly to the public. The nurses, who are in negotiations for a new contract, are also concerned about the hospital’s plan to cut the nurses time off benefits and recent dramatic cuts to their health insurance benefit that has increased the cost of their own health care – issues the nurses believe are essential to recruiting and retaining the nursing staff needed to preserve the quality and safety of patient care.

Maintaining appropriate staffing levels is a constant struggle at the facility, which is causing nurses on a number of units to take on excessive patient assignments, particularly in the hospital’s emergency department where the lack of staff is causing longer wait times for patients, lack of proper care and attention from nurses, and the boarding of patients for hours and sometimes for days waiting for a bed. Nurses are also concerned about patient assignments for nurses on the night shift, where nurses are assigned six to seven patients at one time, a staffing level that research shows places these patient at a 14-21 percent increased risk of death. Also, the hospital employs a staffing practice of understaffing the maternity unit by sending nurses home on many days, leaving the unit short staffed when mothers are admitted for deliveries. This same practice recently contributed to the deaths of two newborns and a mother at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, where they have stopped the practice after an investigation into the deaths by the Department of Public Health.

In March a delegation of nurses delivered a petition signed by more than 90 percent of the nurses to the hospital’s administration seeking safer staffing levels and patient assignments.
The nurses are now seeking contract language, similar to the legislation and ballot initiative pending in the legislature that would establish safe patient limits for nurses on all units to ensure safe patient care.

The 400 nurses, who are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United, recently engaged a federal mediator in an attempt to break the logjam in negotiations for a new union contract. The second negotiation session with a Federal mediator will be held on June 24. The parties began negotiations in late October, 2013 and to date 15 sessions have been held. The contract expired on October 7, 2013 but has been extended until June 24, 2014.