100 at Rally

About 100 people attended a rally in Springfield on July 17. Nurses are asking the community to join them in protesting corporate moves to make health care in the region worse. Nurses at Mercy Medical Center, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) union (www.MassNurses.org) held an informational picket outside the hospital on July 17 in response to Mercy's owner Trinity Health Corporation recently closing 20 intermediate care beds, “temporarily” closing other essential services without any indication they will be re-opened, and creating a staffing and patient care crisis. The rally was from noon until 1 p.m. on the sidewalk outside Mercy Medical Center on Carew Street in Springfield. The below photo shows some of the people at the rally. (photo by MNA)

“Trinity Health has broken promises to the Springfield community by taking over our local hospital while claiming to be ‘mission-driven,’ but then closing services, refusing to adequately staff and making it harder for patients to receive quality care," said Jaime Hyatt, registered nurse (RN) and co-chair of the union's contract bargaining committee. “Mercy patients and staff deserve better than Trinity’s heartless corporate ownership.”

Dee Doyle, RN, co-chair of the union's contract bargaining committee, said, “Mercy Medical Center nurses and the community are standing up to Trinity Health’s broken promises on behalf of our patients. Trinity is completely detached from the needs of local patients and caregivers. The lack of management is hurting our ability to provide quality care and work in a safe environment."

Michigan-based Trinity Health – a national hospital corporation that made $22 billion last year – has systematically dismantled essential healthcare services at Mercy Medical Center and Providence Behavioral Health Hospital over the past decade.

Trinity recently “temporarily” closed 20 of its intermediate care beds without advance notice to nurses or the union. Trinity claims the closure is necessary due to a lack of staffing. But this was really an artificial problem created by Trinity. Hospital management stopped a longstanding shift incentive bonus and has failed to hire nurses and other staff, causing a crisis.

The closure follows other “temporary” closures of respiratory and “neuro-ortho” services at Mercy. Those closures have been prolonged, with no indication they will be re-opened. Trinity followed the same game plan at Providence Hospital. Management artificially lowered “census” by diverting admissions and refusing to staff appropriately. It then systematically closed child, adult, and geriatric psychiatric beds and sold the hospital.

There is a serious lack of leadership at Mercy Medical Center. Management is splitting its time between Springfield and another Trinity facility, Johnson Memorial Hospital in Stafford Springs, CT, and not addressing the concerns of nurses and other staff.

In February 2023, Trinity issued a statement titled, “Trinity Health, one of the nation’s largest health care systems, continues to grow strategically with reported operating revenue of $10.5 billion, an increase of 2.3 percent.” The growth came even though it saw a reduction of $129.3 million in CARES Act grants year over year, according to Trinity. Despite reporting an operating loss during the first six months of FY2023, Trinity highlighted several financial strengths:

Total assets of $30.9 billion and net assets of $17 billion.

Unrestricted cash and investments of $9.8 billion.

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On July 16 the Boston Globe reported that the US military is full of racist terrorists. The Valley Post asked Anna Gyorgy for her reaction. She lives in the Pioneer Valley and works for a Greenfield-based group that has a web site at www.traprock.org. Gyorgy said, "Far-right extremism in the military is not surprising in a country with a history of racist and illegal wars, and a home front crippled by grotesque military expenditures that starve people and communities of needed... resources for a peaceful life. When military-style weapons are easy and legal to buy and own, those trained in warfare may be tempted by a fundamentally unfair society -- and online support mentioned (in the Globe story) -- to use them on the home front. Connections with domestic violence are known.”

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On July 12, NPR's Fresh Air interviewed Jeff Goodell about climate change. Last year, he posted on Twitter, “The problem is consumption, not population.” On July 13, 2023, the Valley Post asked Stephanie Feldstein for her reaction. She works for the Center for Biological Diversity. Feldstein said, “We absolutely need to address excessive consumption by the world’s wealthiest countries, but population and consumption are two sides of the same coin. If we only address one and ignore the other, the human impact on the planet will continue to grow. Gender equity, education, and reproductive autonomy are the key to more just, resilient communities and our ability to face the climate crisis.”

The Brattleboro area was hit hard by floods this month. The floods were made worse by climate change.

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