Hospital to cut as many as 10 nurses
GREENFIELD — Baystate Franklin Medical Center is cutting as many as 10 nurses and one manager, although some of the employees may be able to take on new roles at the hospital.
Hospital officials said the cuts are occurring because, due to changes in health care and medicine, patients are spending less times in hospital beds during their stays. As a result, the medical-surgical unit is typically overstaffed and officials said they routinely have to cancel nurses’ shifts.
The average medical-surgical inpatient length of stay has decreased from 3.4 days last year to 2.4 days this year, according to the hospital. And the average number of medical-surgical inpatients in the hospital on a given day has dropped from 28.5 to 21.3. The daily average census at the mental health unit and “The Birthplace” have remained constant, as have emergency room visits.
The layoffs will affect as many as nine of the hospital’s 49 medical-surgical nurses. A nurse and a manager who work in the hospital’s clinical information systems department will be able to take new jobs in the Baystate Health system and two intensive care unit clerk positions will now take on more nurse aid responsibilities.
The hospital has proposed early retirement packages and will also offer the nurses the opportunity to take other jobs in the organization.
Hospital President Chuck Gijanto said that the hospital has been adjusting how it treats its patients, to align itself with state and national trends in health care reform. Patients are spending less time lying in hospital beds and are able to leave earlier or be treated through the hospital’s outpatient services, he said.
Nurses union viewpoint
The nurses union has a different view. Linda Judd — a medical-surgical and emergency room nurse at the hospital and co-chair of the local nurses union — argues that the numbers are lower because the hospital hasn’t retained and recruited doctors, which has forced patients to travel down to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield for routine services.
The hospital and the nurses have clashed for months on whether there has been a wave of services being transferred down to Springfield.
Something the two sides did agree on Thursday was that the staffing cuts were unfortunate.
“Though we have seen this coming, a reduction in force is always our last resort,” said Gijanto. “The reality is that the managers have been juggling because we have too many nurses for the patients that we have. ... When your volumes go down, and you have the same number of staff, you have too much staff.”
And Judd said the union was “deeply disappointed” to hear of the layoffs and plans to meet with hospital administrators to urge them to reconsider.
She also pointed out that the hospital recently announced that it was bringing in a consultant who worked at Disney for 20 years.
“We don’t need theme park entertainment consultants at our hospital,” said Judd. “We need to restore and maintain the full range of primary care services that residents of Franklin County need and deserve.”
Gijanto said that the consultant will help the hospital achieve national standards of improving the inpatient experience.
“We want to provide the best possible patient experience for the people we care for, and are always interested in pursuing best practices,” he said. “We’re bringing in a nationally known consultant to work with us on this.”
Gijanto said he doesn’t believe this will affect negotiations and that union leaders have known for at least a month about the potential for layoffs.
The union said it hadn’t heard about the cuts until reporters started calling for information on Thursday.
You can reach Chris Shores at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264