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MNA Nurses will March in Downtown Springfield on Thursday to Protest Baystate Health's Attack on Patient Care Services Across Western MA

SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Oct. 16, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Registered nurses from across the Commonwealth who are gathering for the annual convention of the Massachusetts Nurses Association will march from MGM Springfield to Monarch Place on Thursday, Oct. 17 to protest the widespread and devastating reductions to patient care services that Baystate Health has made or is planning to make throughout the region – including newly planned RN cuts at Noble Hospital.

March to Protest Baystate Health Patient Care Cuts
Date: Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019
Time: 5 p.m.
Location: From the site of the 2019 MNA Convention at MGM Springfield to Monarch Place at 1414 Main St. Springfield, MA.

In the latest blow to patient care in Western Massachusetts, Baystate recently told staff at Noble Hospital that it plans to lay off two-thirds of the nurses who care for patients on 2N, the hospital's only medical-surgical unit. Hospital management told nurses the decision was based on budget targets set by the administration, despite the year's highest patient census month approaching in January and the recent implementation of tele tracking, which is predicted to increase census.

"Baystate's decision to make it harder for patients to receive the care they deserve in our community, at the beginning of flu season, is very troubling," said Paul Dubin, a nurse at Noble Hospital and Co-Chair of the MNA Bargaining Committee. "Given the recent ICU closure at Noble and the proposed elimination of our mental health unit, our nurses are increasingly concerned that Baystate is abandoning its promise to keep care local."

Baystate Health made $68.1 million in profits in fiscal year 2018, according to the Center for Health Information and Analysis. Noble Hospital made $1.2 million that year in profits. Through the first three quarters of 2019, Baystate made $59.7 million.

"Despite its tremendous financial resources, Baystate Health is choosing to cut back on vital patient resources in different categories of care and in communities across our region," said Donna Stern, a psychiatric nurse at Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, senior co-chair of the BFMC Bargaining Committee and a board member of the MNA. "Baystate is attacking the foundation of what keeps our communities safe and healthy. They are eliminating intensive care units, mental health beds and now nurse positions in Westfield that people rely on for care when they are infected with influenza or have surgery."

"Baystate's actions are unacceptable," Stern said. "We will march in Springfield to share our concerns with the public because Baystate refuses to take responsibility or even tell our community members what is happening at our hospitals."

A coalition of MNA nurses and other advocates have been fighting efforts by Baystate to eliminate patient services throughout the region. This year, Baystate has closed ICUs at Noble and Wing Hospital in Palmer and has proposed closing all of the mental health beds at Baystate Franklin Medical Center, Noble and Wing.

Baystate also still has plans to partner with the national for-profit US HealthVest and build a new facility in Holyoke, despite a Seattle Times investigation detailing patient neglect, fraudulent documentation of care, dangerous staffing levels and even an assault linked to cost savings efforts at US HealthVest facilities. MNA nurses and advocates have called on Baystate to dissolve the partnership and instead invest in local care.

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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