At least ten towns have introduced resolutions that would urge Baystate Franklin hospital in Greenfield, Massachusetts not to cut back medical services. The push comes as the hospital and union nurses continue an 18-month labor dispute.
Organizers say an increasing number of patients have been transferred to Baystate in Springfield, due to cuts in specialty services in Greenfield over the last ten years. The towns’ resolutions would formally ask Baystate not to make further cuts.
“They’re more symbolic than anything,” says Donna Stern, a registered nurse and co-chair of the nurses’ bargaining unit at Baystate Franklin. She says while symbolic, the resolutions attempt to put community pressure on the hospital.
“The people of Franklin County are saying, ‘wait a second here. You’re still a non-profit, you still have a charitable mission, you still need to be held to meeting that charitable mission, we’re going to start holding you accountable,’ ” says Stern.
Stern insists the resolutions are unrelated to ongoing contract negotiations between Baystate and the nurses – who have been without a contract for 15 months. But she says union nurses have been involved in starting town petitions. Baystate regional president Chuck Gijanto says the resolutions are a way for the union to drum up public support.
“I fully believe that the commentary about the services the hospital are offering, are completely linked to the fact that we do not have a contract in place,” says Gijanto.
He adds that no services have been transferred from Baystate Franklin in his five years there. The next bargaining session between the hospital and union nurses is April 24th.