BOSTON, April 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The registered nurses of Tufts Medical Center have scheduled a vote by the membership on Thursday, April 14, 2011 to authorize a one-day strike as management continues to refuse to agree to desperately needed improvements in patient care conditions at this major Boston teaching hospital.
The strike authorization vote has been scheduled to take place throughout the day and into the evening on Thursday, April 14. Nurses will cast their vote by secret ballot at the Asian Community Center at 38 Oak St., (around the corner from the hospital) from 6:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m., and at MNA Headquarters at 340 Turnpike St. in Canton from 8:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. The outcome of the vote will be announced at approximately 10 p.m.
MNA will have nurses available throughout the day for interviews with the media.
The vote does not mean the nurses will strike immediately. It gives the negotiating committee the authorization to call a one-day strike if and when they feel it is necessary. Once the committee issues its official notice to strike, the hospital will then have 10 days before the nurses will go out on strike.
The nurses have serious concerns about recent cuts in RN staffing levels and other changes in how they deliver care that has resulted in nurses being forced to care for more patients at one time on nearly every unit. To compensate for chronic understaffing, TMC is using mandatory overtime, and is forcing nurses to "float" from one area of the hospital to another where they might not be competent to provide appropriate care.
Those changes transformed this hospital from being one of the best staffed hospitals in Boston to the worst staffed hospital in the city and as a result, Tufts nurses spend less time with patients than nurses at other hospitals in the city. No other institution in the city is operating ICUs, including neonatal intensive care units, where their nurses are expected to care for three patients, nor are they expecting their medical surgical nurses to carry assignments of up to seven patients on a regular basis.
The staffing changes have caused a dramatic deterioration in both the quality of care nurses are delivering and, in some cases, has resulted in serious lapses in care. In the past 15 months alone, nurses have filed more than 600 reports of incidents that jeopardized patient care. In addition, more than 80 percent of the nurses have signed petitions calling for safe staffing levels.
The 1,200 RNs at TMC, who are currently in negotiations for a new contract, are seeking contractually guaranteed, safe staffing levels, which would be adjusted to meet patients' needs. The nurses are also calling for prohibitions against forced overtime and the inappropriate floating of nurses — all of which are needed to ensure that patients at Tufts Medical Center receive the safe care they deserve.
The nurses began negotiating a new contract with Tufts Medical Center management in September of 2010 and a total of 14 negotiating sessions have been held to date. The current contract expired on Dec. 31, 2010, and it has been extended by agreement of both parties through April 22. The parties are scheduled to meet next on April 15.
SOURCE Massachusetts Nurses Association