BOSTON, June 19, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Tufts Medical Center administrators, physicians and employees today set the record straight, calling out a series of falsehoods that have been circulating in the press and in memos and communications from the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA), the union that represents its 1,267 nurses. The two sides have met more than 30 times since last April, yet have been unable to come to an agreement on a new contract.
"We are all very proud of the outstanding nursing community at Tufts Medical Center. When the union intentionally distributes false information, they are not treating our nurses with the respect they have earned and that they deserve," said Terry Hudson-Jinks, Chief Nursing Officer at Tufts Medical Center. "Over the last 14 months, we listened to our nurses' concerns; as a result 13 of the 15 tentative agreements reached in the final proposal were requested by the MNA. The MNA worked hard at the negotiation table. Now it's time for the MNA to do what is right for their members and urge them to accept the current proposal or come back to the table with real ideas on how to make it better, within the $30 million the Medical Center is able to offer."
In a press release dated June 14th, the MNA made multiple claims that were untrue or misleading. One such claim is that Tufts Medical Center has a hard time recruiting and retaining nurses. The truth is that Tufts MC's turnover rate is one of the lowest in the country at 4.6%. We have shared this fact, with the data supporting it, with the MNA many times over the last 14 months.
"Tufts Medical Center is in the 94th percentile for nursing retention in the country, compared with 304 like hospitals nationwide, according to The Advisory Board, a recognized and respected source for benchmarking workplace metrics in healthcare, including retention rates," said Sean Sullivan, Vice President of Human Resources at Tufts Medical Center, adding that the Medical Center has hired 160 additional nurses in the past 18 months. "We're among the best in the country for keeping our nurses and in fact, many of our nurses stay and work their entire careers here."
On the issue of wages, the MNA claims Tufts Medical Center nurses have "the lowest wages" in the city. Tufts MC has fewer resources than other hospitals in Boston, yet its full-time senior nurses at the top of the scale (comprising 60 percent of the Medical Center's nurses) earned an average of $152,000 in 2016. Nurses with 10 years' experience earned an average of $100,000 in 2016. The final contract proposal from the hospital increases the wages of the most experienced nurses by 10.5 percent over the 39 months following ratification, with greater than half of that increase to be awarded over the first 12 months of the contract.
"Most of our nurses will take home an additional $14,000 - $17,000 annually as part of this contract," explained Hudson-Jinks. "Our proposal offers our nurses market competitive salaries."
The MNA has also questioned Tufts MC's commitment to patient care. Nurse leaders and Charge RNs work closely with the Center for Patient Placement 24/7, assesses staffing needs every four hours and making adjustments as necessary. Together they take into account the acuity of the patients as well as the experience of the nurses. Tufts MC is the proud recipient of many quality awards, including as a Blue Cross Blue Shield Blue Distinction Center in cardiac care, hip and knee replacement, spine surgery, gastric procedures and other specialties. Our heart transplant program was ranked among the top eight in the country based on survival rates.
"For the past 35 years I have worked closely with OR nurses, ICU nurses, and surgical nurses at Tufts Medical Center. I am proud of the care our teams provide. We take care of the very sickest and most complex patients with expertise and compassion," said William Mackey, MD, Surgeon-in-Chief at Tufts Medical Center. "The safety and well-being of our patients is always our top priority. That is why my dad, my wife, my kids and I all have had our care here."
"Just months ago, the Joint Commission completed a scheduled review of the organization and commended the hospital for its quality and extraordinary care. One of the surveyors described the Medical Center as a 'gem' in the community. I have been part of many Joint Commission surveys and praise like that is extremely rare," said Saul Weingart, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Tufts Medical Center. "We're proud of the work of our doctors, our nurses and the other health professionals whose compassion and professional expertise are exceptional in every way."
In addition, the final contract proposal from Tufts MC adds additional charge nurse without an initial assignment hours to medical/surgical floors to support the nurses and assist with patient care.
In its latest news release, the MNA once again spreads the misinformation that the Medical Center's proposed plan to switch nurses from a defined benefit (DB) pension plan to a 403b retirement plan, claiming that this change, "would result in significant losses in retirement funding for most nurses."
"The reality is that 341 of our 1,267 nurses are currently in the defined benefit plan, a very expensive type of plan that forces the Medical Center to spend millions of dollars each year in administrative costs alone," said Kristine Hanscom, Chief Financial Officer at Tufts Medical Center. "These administrative fees do not go to our nurses. In our final proposal, we offer a defined contribution option where the dollars spent by the Medical Center go directly to support our nurses. We also offer a significant contribution match for nurses currently in the defined benefit plan and have even included a ramp up year, where the highest match will be offered, regardless of the amount the nurse puts into the account."
Finally, the MNA has not accepted that the hospital's proposal is final. The MNA has released statements including quotes from bargaining co-chair Mary Havlicek Cornacchia saying, "…what the hospital offered at the end of yesterday's session was really nothing more than a reconfigured version of the offer that the nurses rejected…"
"We agree. We reconfigured the final offer in an effort to respond to what we heard from the bargaining committee. For instance, we found a way to offer retroactive pay for our nurses," said Michael Wagner, MD, President and Chief Operating Officer of Tufts Medical Center. "This is a very unstable time for all hospitals; many are reporting significant losses or announcing layoffs. Pending legislation in Washington threatens to cut our clinical and research funding even more. Despite this challenging financial climate, we have stretched our capabilities to make this final offer. Thirty million dollars is a major investment."
"We don't want a strike. A strike doesn't help anyone," Wagner said. "We are willing to go back to the table and find creative ways to use the money we've put into this package. But we will not offer more. Our focus is to keep our institution stable and viable so we can all care for our patients now and in the future."
The 23-page final proposal was sent to all nurses last week and they have been encouraged to review the details. The proposal can also be found at www.tuftsmedicalcenter.org/negotiations.
About Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children
Tufts Medical Center is an exceptional, not-for-profit, 415-bed academic medical center that is home to both a full-service hospital for adults and Floating Hospital for Children. Conveniently located in downtown Boston, the Medical Center is the principal teaching hospital for Tufts University School of Medicine. Floating Hospital for Children is the full-service children's hospital of Tufts Medical Center and the principal pediatric teaching hospital of Tufts University School of Medicine. Tufts Medical Center is affiliated with the New England Quality Care Alliance, a network of more than 1,800 physicians throughout Eastern Massachusetts. For more information, please visit www.tuftsmedicalcenter.org.
SOURCE Tufts Medical Center