EMMC Nurses Picket for Better Contract 

Catherine Pegram

Nurses at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor picketed outside the Union Street Healthcare Mall today to bring attention to their efforts to come up with a new contract.The nurses say they’re concerned staffing levels at the hospital are causing patient care to suffer. They’d like to see minimum staffing guarantees worked into a new contract.Hospital administrators says staff levels are monitored on a daily basis and they continue to be safe and appropriate, so mandated nurse-to-patient ratios are unnecessary. Lorraine Rodgerson, the Chief Nursing Officer, says, “It’s quite frankly a simple approach to a complex problem. A nurse is not a nurse is not a nurse and we need to be able to respond to their experience, the activity on the nursing unit on any given day and be able to flex up for census and flex down for census.”Judy Brown, the President of the nurses union, says, “We do know that they’re down about 100 to 120 positions since July 2009 so that means that many less nurses that no longer work at the medical center and the nurses that are there are starting to feel it. They know they’re not getting done what they want to get done with their patients.”Not all of the positions eliminated were nursing positions.Health insurance benefits are also a point of negotiation.The nurses are planning to hold a candlelight vigil in Cascade Park on Sunday evening to highlight their concerns.We’re told both sides are scheduled to go back to the bargaining table a week from today.