WATCH LIVE

Nurses Speak Out About Cuts in Child Cancer Unit at EMMC 

Catherine Pegram

Some nurses at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor are speaking out against a plan to cut two positions in the children’s cancer unit. Hospital officials say it’s a move to save money.Bven though the two nurses are getting new jobs, union representatives say it still amounts to layoffs that are taking away from patient care. Barbara Lambarida, a labor representative with Maine State Nurses Association, says “When you’re dealing with a disease such as cancer, more so when it’s a child involved, the child and the family go through very difficult times emotionally and that’s on-going.”That’s one reason why she and other members of the nurse union oppose the hospital’s decision to move outpatient chemotherapy and infusion treatments to the inpatient pediatric unit.The change will eliminate two specialized pediatric nursing positions. Cokie Giles, the president of the union, says “As you can imagine, being a child and being a family of child with cancer, they get very close to the people taking care of them. And I’m not saying that the nurses aren’t qualified that work in inpatient, but they’re certainly not as connected as these two nurses are.”The two nurses are being transferred to other open positions, a move union reps consider a layoff. Hospital officials won’t say how much money the effort will save. But they will say even though the location of care is changing, the quality is not. Dr. Sarah Fryberger, a pediatric oncologist, says “The chemotherapy will be administered in the inpatient unit by qualified pediatric nurses, pediatric oncology nurses. And I actually think when the patients get over here and realize who’s giving their chemo, it’s nurses they know from having been in the hospital before.”Clinical educator and nurse Laurie George agrees.”We’re very comfortable caring for these patients. we’re very confident and competent that we can do this. We see them when they’re very sick so for us it will actually be caring for a child who isn’t as sick.”The switch is scheduled to start Monday. Union representatives say they’ve already filed a grievance against the hospital.