"Closing the floor, taking services away from patients, but spending money to have big dinner at the DCU center? I'd rather see the money spent on patient care at the bedside," says Lynne Starbard, an RN in the family-centered maternity unit and co-chair of the bargaining unit at Memorial Campus, Hahnemann Campus, and Home Health and Hospice. "With flu and pneumonia season coming up, we can't afford to lose patient beds and caregivers."
Starbard explains that nurses felt there wasn't anything to celebrate and that they have a dim view of management right now. "It's very depressing as a nurse to feel that our opinion doesn't matter. There's disrespect for our knowledge and our work."
I reached out to the health system to hear their side of the story, but at press time had received no response.
Nurses at the UMass Memorial campus have been involved in contract disputes for a year and still have not come to an agreement. Nurses at the UMass University campus, however, finalized their contract months ago.
Considering the long-running dispute, I'm sure hospital leadership regrets the timing of the gala, which was scheduled a year in advance. The case struck me as a cautionary tale for leadership at other organizations. Reward and recognition of employees is important, but it can never be a panacea for an organization's ills.