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Nurses at Holy Family Hospital campuses in Haverhill and Methuen Wednesday picketed outside to, in their words, “draw attention to the struggles they are facing in delivering safe, quality care to their patients.”
Haverhill Emergency Room Nurse Jane Emery, co-chair of Massachusetts Nurses Association-affiliated unit, told WHAV nurses have left the hospital for better wages and benefits.
“We’ve been losing many, many nurses here to the point that we have units that have cut down on their beds. We used to have an adult behavioral—that’s a geriatric psych—that was 17 beds. It’s down to 11. We had our very robust med-surge telemetry unit that was, say, 32 beds, down to 18 tops. And it’s all because we can’t staff anymore,” she said.
The union said Holy Family Hospital nurses are paid low wages, “Second only to Beth Israel Lahey’s Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport, the two Holy Family Hospitals’ wages are lower than any hospital in the northeast region of Massachusetts.”
They were joined in solidarity on Lincoln Avenue in Haverhill by other labor leaders, including Merrimack Valley Labor Council Vice President Fred A. Simmons, who is also a candidate for Haverhill City Council and School Committee, Haverhill Firefighters Union Local 1011 President Timothy Carroll and others. Haverhill City Councilor Melinda E. Barrett, a candidate for mayor, also held a sign and marched with nurses.
Steward Regional Marketing Communications Lead North Region Deborah Chiaravalloti said in a statement, “These are informational pickets conducted by the MNA. It is their right to do so as Steward Holy Family Hospital negotiates a contract with them. We support the negotiating process and both sides remain at the negotiating table.”
The Massachusetts Nurses Association added, “For the nurses who remain at the Haverhill and Methuen campuses, it means they are understaffed and are struggling to provide patients with the safe care they deserve.”
There are 550 registered nurses working, but the union said, more nursing positions remain unfilled.