Replacement Nurses On The Way At EMMC 

After three months of negotiations between officials at Eastern Maine Medical Center and unionized nurses, the two sides are still far apart on a new contract. It appears now that not even the Governor can prevent the three day work stoppage scheduled for this weekend.Judy Brown is the President of the Nurses Union at EMMC. “And what do we think is going to happen this weekend with people who don’t even know how to work that hospital and it looks like they’re staffing for less nurses than they would normally staff on any given day at the medical center,” she says. The hospital’s deadline to prevent the three day work stoppage passed tuesday at midnight. Governor Baldacci spoke to both sides Wednesday urging them to re-open negotiations, but hospital officials say it’s too late for that.V.P. of Human Resources for EMMC. “And they knew what the date was that we could not reverse our path because we have got too much invested in this”A federal mediator cancelled two bargaining sessions for a cooling off period but that hasn’t stopped both sides from speaking out. Union nurses held a press conference Wednesday with concerned members of the community. Scott Cuddy says he was there just to support the nurses. “The people who take care of us and of our kids we’re watching them fight to take care of us. and we’re watching an administration fight for dollars,” Cuddy says.At the center of the debate is staffing levels. Union nurses say they’re given too many patients to care for at one time. “I work in the general O.R area. I get patients down in pre-op that haven’t had a bath in 3 days,” says Judy Brown. “Okay, they’re having surgery. That’s actually an infection control thing at that point in time.”Hospital officials say one counter proposal from the nurses union suggested putting the current staffing in the contract. The same levels they say are not good enough. “So if they want our own staffing plans codified in the agreement, they must be acceptable staffing plans,” says Lorraine Rodgerson, Chief Nursing Officer at the medical center.An orientation for replacement nurses is scheduled for Friday. They’ll be on the job at EMMC starting Saturday.