STATEMENTS: Unions call for 9:30 a.m. Friday rally at NARH
From: WMass Jobs with Justice <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, Mar 25, 2014 at 9:31 PM
Subject: [Workers' Rights] URGENT ACTION! Northern Berkshire Healthcare closing hospital
A community demonstration is being planned for Friday, 9:30am. See below.
North Adams Regional Hospital, the Northern Berkshire Visiting Nurses Association & Hospice of Northern Berkshire, and three medical practices -- all under the umbrella of Northern Berkshire Healthcare -- will close on Friday, leaving 530 full- and part-time employees without jobs and thousands of patients with no immediate health care answers. (Berkshire Eagle; click for more)
State and local officials are scrambling to save North Adams Regional Hospital from closure Friday, even if it is only a temporary reprieve until it can be merged with a more stable partner. (MassLive; click for more)
Union workers there are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association (100 members) and 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East (nearly 200). Their statements are below. They plan to fight the closure, as does the April 4th Coalition. All are Western Mass. Jobs with Justice Organizational Members and need our solidarity.
A community demonstration is being planned for Friday, 9:30am.
· Please publicize this event through whatever networks you have.
· Become involved and let your voices be heard. Do not quietly accept this loss. Take the time to be at the demonstration.
Below is a statement by the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United:
North Adams Regional Hospital has announced this afternoon that they are closing the hospital as of Friday, providing the patients, community and workforce served by this hospital with just three days' notice.
NARH is a community hospital that provides desperately needed emergency and inpatient care to an isolated, rural community in the northwest corner of the state. It is outrageous to close this hospital so abruptly with no plan in place for the patients impacted by this callous decision.
We are not convinced that the board of trustees and management has fulfilled the legal requirements to allow the closure of this facility, and in any case, to do so in this manner is unacceptable.
While the board of trustees may have chosen to abandon this community, the nurses of NARH have not. We are meeting with all relevant public officials, working with others in the community and exploring every legal avenue open to us to save this hospital, or to at least ensure a safe transition for our patients.
The closing highlights a growing crisis in Massachusetts where the consolidation of hospitals into large corporate networks (such as Baystate Health and Partners), has left smaller community hospitals, particularly those that serve poorer communities, more vulnerable, with no source of support to ensure all communities have access to the care and services they need.
In addition to fighting to save this and other hospitals and services currently in jeopardy, the MNA/NNU is promoting a ballot initiative, the Hospital Profitable Profit Transparency and Fairness Act, which would establish a process for funding needed services and facilities for all communities in the Commonwealth. Coincidentally, a nurse from NARH testified about this issue at a State House hearing held on Monday.
Below is a statement from 1199SEIU:
This closure is unacceptable. Unfortunately, this crisis in North Adams is indicative of significant problems and disparities within the broader Massachusetts health care financing system.
Community hospitals in Massachusetts are in crisis largely as a result of low Medicaid rates and the disproportionately higher commercial payments made to higher-cost hospitals.
Healthcare workers are calling on state officials to immediately intervene and protect the vital, cost-effective services provided by North Adams Regional Hospital. This is a potentially devastating development for patients and workers alike.
This is a matter of life and death for many in the impacted communities who could lose access to emergency hospital services. A solution must be found.