Contact: Dawn Kettinger or (517) 721-9688
(Lansing, MI) Nearly 500 registered nurses, healthcare professionals and community members held an informational picket outside Sparrow Hospital tonight to let the public know about their continuing efforts to reach a contract with administrators that is patient-centered.
“Nurses and healthcare professionals are fighting first and foremost for the safety and well-being of our patients and our community,” said Jeff Breslin, RN, president of the Professional Employee Council of Sparrow Hospital (PECSH), an affiliate of the Michigan Nurses Association (MNA). “It’s disappointing to see Sparrow propose staffing levels that could endanger patients. They also refuse to support our efforts to protect the community’s access to care. These proposals make absolutely no sense and do not prioritize quality care.”
PECSH/MNA, representing 2,300 RNs and healthcare professionals at the hospital, has been negotiating with administrators for months, asking for measures to keep patients safe and ensure the community’s access to care. Members have been working without a contract since Oct. 31.
Staffing issues persist in many Sparrow units, including the Emergency Department. Sparrow is the only Level 1 Trauma Center in the entire region, and wait times for many patients already often exceed 6 hours.
“We are almost always working short-staffed, juggling multiple vulnerable patients, yet we get told that ‘finance says we are overstaffed and have to send nurses home,'” said Leanne Heilig, RN, who works nights in the Emergency Department. “Sparrow is forcing us to focus on ‘productivity’ and profit-driven care, not patient-centered care. As emergency room nurses, we are just asking to be adequately staffed so we can be ready and able to save lives at all times.”
State Rep. Tom Cochran of Mason, a former Lansing Fire Chief, urged Sparrow to put patient care and safety first.
“It is wrong for Sparrow to put cutting costs before saving lives,” Cochran said. “The community needs Sparrow to be able to handle unpredictable situations like catastrophic car crashes and house fires no matter when they happen. We all want to see Sparrow continuing growing, but not at the cost of compromising patient care and safety. It’s disappointing that they’re spending money on heated driveways and elaborate facilities while forcing the nurses to constantly do more with less.”
PECSH/MNA is asking Sparrow to improve staffing, including safety sitters, to increase the quality and safety of care. Sparrow already routinely violates the current agreed-upon staffing levels.
PECSH/MNA is also asking Sparrow to guarantee access to care for members of our community. Instead, Sparrow has refused to agree to guarantee to continue its free or discounted care to eligible patients at current levels. It also has refused to stop putting individuals and families into financial ruin by reporting them to credit scoring agencies.
None of Sparrow’s excuses are valid, said John Armelagos, RN and president of the Michigan Nurses Association.
“PECSH/MNA members have the full backing of the entire Michigan Nurses Association and all healthcare professionals across the state who are sick of employers putting the almighty dollar above all else,” Armelagos said. “It would be irresponsible to let Sparrow Hospital continue to enjoy financial growth while compromising care for the community.”
Breslin said the nurses and healthcare professionals greatly appreciate the outpouring of support from the community. People wanting to show support can sign an online petition at safersparrow.org.
“We know the public is on our side as we continue advocating for our patients and our community,” Breslin said. “Mid-Michigan residents deserve to know about the obstacles Sparrow nurses and healthcare professionals are facing. We will continue fighting hard for Sparrow to be reasonable and enable us to provide the best care possible.”