Baystate Noble nurses protest over contract issues

Contract negotiations started in February of 2016

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A group of nurses picketed outside Baystate Noble Hospital on Wednesday, advocating for more safe and effective patient care.

According to a release sent to 22News by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, nurses at Baystate Noble entered contract negotiations nearly a year ago with concerns about patient safety and staffing levels. The MNA claims that 94% of nurses who were asked about staffing before contract negotiations said their unit was short staffed some or most of the time.

“The hospital has changed a lot since I began working here 31 years ago,” said Pam Fournier, a registered nurse and bargaining unit co-chair. “Patients are sicker than ever, yet nursers have less time to spend with each patient. That means less time for treatment and less time to educate patients about their care.”

The MNA said Baystate Health isn’t providing safe staffing and ended the 2014 to 2015 year with $121-million in profits; and between 2010 and 2015, Baystate Medical Center alone made $480-million in profits.

The nurses said they also want a contract that will give them access to affordable, quality health insurance and a fair wage increase.

Dennise Colson, a registered nurse at Baystate Noble, said, “We are out here today for patient safety. Without proper staffing our patients are put at risk for delayed care.”

“Fair competitive wages with other area hospitals, so we can recruit and maintain our staff,” said another registered nurse Pamelo Fournier.

According to Baystate Noble Hospital President Ronald Bryant, “One, we have lost money. Two, it takes an awful lot of infrastructure investment to keep these organizations running.”

Noble Hospital was an independent hospital up until 2015. Bryant said they lost $2.7-million last year and are budgeted to lose $3.4-million this year. He said the hospital must move forward prudently to continue serving the community.

Watch the video below to see the entire interview with the Baystate Noble Hospital President.