Baystate Noble Hospital nurses call for restored jobs amid contract talks, coronavirus

Registered nurses at Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield, Mass., have signed a petition expressing their concerns over staffing and service cuts, according to the union that represents them.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association said March 11 that nurses seek a public meeting about the future of the hospital amid the new coronavirus pandemic and as Baystate has been eliminating services and reducing staff.

"Baystate Noble nurses and our community are united when it comes to preserving and improving patient care services at our hospital," said Paul Dubin, RN and co-chair of the union's bargaining committee at Baystate Noble. "Baystate has not been transparent about how it plans to fulfill its obligation to meeting the healthcare needs of our patients, their families and our communities. We are urging President [Ron] Bryant to hold a public meeting about the future of Baystate Noble Hospital."

The union cites closure of the intensive care units at Baystate Noble and Baystate Wing Hospital in Palmer, Mass., last August. It also cites the hospital's efforts to find a partner to open a new mental health facility and close the mental health unit at Baystate Noble and the merger of Baystate Noble's 2N medical-surgical unit with telemetry, which resulted in 2N staff cuts.

The nurses are calling on Baystate Noble to restore eliminated medical-surgical positions; reopen the intensive care unit at Baystate Noble and to preserve the mental health unit, among other demands.

In response to the union's petition, Mark A. Keroack, MD, president and CEO of Springfield, Mass.-based Baystate Health, referenced the importance of investing in regional services.

"We have made and continue to make strong investments in the quality of care, services, facilities and programs offered throughout the Baystate Health system," he said in an emailed statement to Becker's Hospital Review. "Our decisions are made based on careful assessments of community health need, data around usage patterns in the local setting and best practices ...We always consider the input from our community, with much engagement and support from our diverse groups of volunteer community representatives who serve on our boards, committees and advisory councils at our hospitals and other entities."

Dr. Keroack added that the health system welcomes community engagement, but it is disappointed about the timing of the union's petition, especially during the pandemic. 

The petition comes as Baystate Noble nurses negotiate a new contract with the hospital. Their current contract expires March 31.


More articles on human resources:
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Providence Kodiak Medical Center workers deliver March 20 strike notice
NYU Langone-Brooklyn bumps pay for 900 nurses

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