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Machias Nurses and Technicians Deliver Petition of No Confidence in Chief Executives

Andy O’Brien
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Registered nurses and technicians at Down East Community Hospital (DECH) in Machias, Maine, delivered a petition of “no confidence” in the hospital’s chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), and chief nursing officer (CNO) to the Chair of the DECH Board of Trustees on June 16 to demand changes to protect and improve patient care.

The no-confidence petition was overwhelmingly supported by the RNs and technicians. The board has failed to take action. MSNA represents registered nurses and technicians at DECH. Technicians include certified surgical technicians, medical lab technologists/technicians, and cardiopulmonary and imaging technologists.

“The lack of respect toward nurses and technicians shown through contract negotiations is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the poor decision-making and climate issues at DECH,” said Berta Alley, an RN in the infusion clinic and DECH chief nurse representative and negotiator. “We have lost three more full-time nurses in the last month because of the current environment, and we already had an RN vacancy rate over 25 percent.”

“And it’s not just nurses,” continued Alley, “Our medical-surgical unit has not had full staffing of certified nursing assistants in years, and the hospital has recently failed to retain more than 10 well-respected providers that our community needs.”

The petition notes the failure of CEO Steve Lail, CFO Lynnette Parr, and CNO John Marshall to:

  • Put patient safety first
  • Include or consider staff input in patient care decision-making or decisions
  • Communicate with staff
  • Have a presence in the hospital
  • Retain experienced, high-quality staff and foster a culture of community and caring
  • Compensate staff fairly and reach a fair contract

“Enough is enough,” said Joelle Jackson, a medical lab tech and DECH steward and negotiator. “We care deeply about our hospital, our patients, and our community. We are all neighbors here and that neighborhood used to extend into the hospital, but it no longer does. Many nurses and technicians wouldn’t even recognize the executives if they walked in the room.”

“We surveyed our members 15 months ago and found that nearly 80 percent had seriously considered leaving in the prior six months and that the climate and relationships with upper management were poor,” said Alley. “We petitioned the hospital 20 months ago to bring back an excellent doctor who put patient care first.”  

“The hospital administration has been aware of our concerns and their answer has been silence and more top-down management,” said Jackson. “We know our community supports the staff as we fight for the essential local staff and the optimal work environment to meet our patients and community’s needs.”

MSNA is launching a community-wide effort to educate the public on what is going on at DECH and to continue gathering community support. See the petition, "Support DECH Nurses and Techs," for more information.

“It has become all too clear that it’s time for new administration, and the board needs to do its duty and take action,” said Alley.