Steward Health vs. Nurses Union Fight an Ugly Harbinger

John Commins, January 10, 2012

The union-management animosity at Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, MA, did not end with last July's vote by nurses to join the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United.

The National Labor Relations Board has taken up a complaint that a veteran nurse at the hospital was fired last year by Holy Family's parent Steward Health Care Systems, allegedly for her role in the organizing effort. An administrative judge will hear the complaint on Feb. 14.

Steward Health Care Systems denies the allegation and has issued a statement saying that "participation in union organizing activities played no role in the decision" to fire nurse Mary Ramirez, 61, who'd been at the Holy Family for 18 years.  

These two narratives could not be farther apart. MNA/NNU calls Ramirez a martyr for the cause. Steward alleges that Ramirez endangered the life of a patient and slyly hints that she may have had a drug problem.

Steward says Ramirez was fired "because she intentionally changed a doctor's orders, committed an intentional medical error, and failed to enter the fact that she administered a powerful narcotic (morphine) into a patient's medical record. Ms. Ramirez admitted these facts to a fellow nurse, who then reported her actions to management."

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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