Letter: Uniform mandate

Baystate Medical Center is requiring that its direct-care employees wear prescribed color-specific uniforms, purchased through Cintas, an out-of-state supplier. (Nurses will wear royal blue.) Until now, professional dress standards have allowed most employees to wear multi-colored scrubs of their own choosing.

This mandate is based, not on scientific research or strong sociological data, but on input from some families saying they could not properly identify their caregivers while in the hospital. This problem — if solvable at all, considering the bewildered, stressed state of most people who find themselves in the hospital — could have been addressed in a more cost-effective way.

Standard Attire is costing Baystate Health an enormous amount of money.

Baystate is giving stipends ($100, $60 and $40) to employees, to buy new uniforms from Baystate’s contracted source only. The stipends fail to cover the actual costs to employees, whose work gear purchased over many years is now obsolete. The stipends will cover at most, one uniform. Further uniform purchases must come from the employees’ own pockets.

Our local communities will suffer from the outsourcing of thousands of uniforms. The financial impact upon employees, particularly those less well paid, will be substantial.

This health care money could be better spent. Spent on, for instance, funding local drug addiction programs. Spent on outreach, education and home care follow-up to keep people from repeat visits to the hospital. Or spent on adding local Urgent Care Centers, to reduce crowding and stress in Emergency Departments.

The stated Mission of Baystate Health is “to improve the health of the people in our communities every day with quality and compassion.”

Will this Standard Attire mandate do this, or does it make a public image statement which will actually impoverish employees and our community?

M. PATTERSON FIELD

Northfield

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