HYANNIS, Mass., May 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Registered nurses who work for Cape Cod Health Care, including nurses at Cape Cod and Falmouth Hospitals and the Cape Cod VNA, are alarmed and outraged by the decision announced today by CEO Mike Lauf that he plans to furlough up to 600 workers in the system, including over 50 nurses and dozens of nurses aides and other support staff who have been working tirelessly over the last two months to provide optimum care during the worst public health crisis in our nation's history.
"Nurses and other members of our health care team are astounded by this callous and short sighted decision, which we believe will place all of our patients in jeopardy and have dangerous consequences for the remaining staff, who are already exhausted from working under what has been the most trying time for health care workers," said Shannon Sherman, RN, chair of the nurses Massachusetts Nurses Association local bargaining unit at Cape Cod Hospital. "We have been risking our lives and our families lives every day for our community and this health care system, and to now have our CEO, who has never cared for a patient, or made any of the sacrifices we have made, is now implementing staffing cuts that will threaten the safety of our patients -- it is nothing short of disgusting."
"While this has been very stressful to the nursing staff at Cape Cod Hospital over the last two to three months, to be having a reduction of staff with a furlough when our census is going up, this seems premature and dangerous," added Michelle Brum, vice chair of the nurses bargaining unit and a nurse in the post anesthesia care unit. "We're going to need all the help we can get to give the best care to our community and this will only add to the stress level of the nurses."
The system cites significant losses in revenue due to the loss of elective surgeries and non-COVID-19 patient admissions for the decision, yet the state-declared emergency for the pandemic is still in effect and hospitals across the state, including those on the Cape, have yet to see a significant, extended decline in patients requiring care for COVID-19 symptoms. More importantly, when the COVID-19 curve is flatten, the hospital will need to resume elective procedures and other non-COVID-19 admissions to recover lost revenue, which will still require the same number of staff, if not more staff, to ensure services are fully restored without comingling patient populations and thus, exacerbating the spread of the virus.
The decision to cut staffing levels in the midst of a pandemic comes as the Government has reported it has awarded Cape Cod Healthcare more than $20 million from the federal stimulus package, as well as cuts to payroll taxes and a significant increase to reimbursement rates for the care of COVID-19 patients.
The nurse are also dismayed that Mr. Lauf is willing to put 600 hundred people out of work for at least a month with no pay, while he and his senior management team will continue to work, providing no care to anyone, and only suffer a 5 – 12.5 percent reduction in what are already significant salaries.
In response to the decision, the MNA will be pursuing whatever legal means are open to them to stop these cuts.
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.