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Letter: What nurses want

As a nurse at Baystate Franklin Medical Center, I would like to explain why the Franklin Medical Center nurses strike is about working conditions rather than nurses’ “greed.”

For most FMC nurses, the most objectionable part of Baystate’s proposed contract is the elimination of time-and-a-half pay for hours worked beyond a nurse’s scheduled time on any given shift.

Nobody likes overtime and nobody gets rich from it.

However, the practice of offering higher pay for overtime represents an important incentive for managers to limit the use of overtime. We are concerned that if overtime costs the hospital nothing, management could rely on mandatory overtime as a regular form of staffing. By eliminating overtime pay — and the deterrent it represents — Baystate is asking nurses to relinquish one way we attempt to maintain decent working conditions. And yes, nurses’ working conditions translate directly into the quality of care you receive when you are sick.

Though rewarding in so many ways, hospital nursing is physically and emotionally demanding — wdraining to a degree little understood by those outside the field. Frankly, working unplanned overtime can be brutal on nurses. The more the practice is used, the more it compromises patient care. Trying to recoup FMC’s much-discussed $8 million budget deficit by eroding patient care doesn’t make any sense.

I have worked in four Massachusetts hospitals over the past 15 years. Nowhere have I experienced the level of professionalism, excellence in patient care and dedication to teamwork that exists at Franklin Medical Center. Our hospital is a gem; FMC nurses desperately want to keep it that way.

KATY ROBBINS, BSN

OB nurse at Franklin Medical Center

Greenfield

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