Safer Staffing and Better Education Among Big Wins for UMCRMC Nurses

January 1, 1970

After months of tense negotiations, nurses at University of Maryland Regional Charles Medical Center (UMCRMC) in Charles County ratified a new contract, which caregivers feel will improve the hospital’s quality care with safer staffing and stronger educational opportunities for nurses.Key wins include 5% in wage increases over the life of the three-year contract, a lump sum bonus in 2017, and updated staffing grids that will add nurse resources and improve staffing in the maternity, emergency, and intensive care departments. Nurses also made important gains in the Emergency Department. Twelve new nurses were hired in the ED following intense pressure that nurses put on management, improving the quality of care for patients and improving work conditions for staff. Discussions with nurses, management and providers will take place very soon to improve communication and operational flow. During negotiations, nurses also won more support for educational opportunities, with yearly tuition reimbursement increases reaching $3,200 per year for full-time nurses in Bachelor of Science programs—an increase of over 60%. Additionally, the hospital will provide in-house training for required certifications such as advanced cardiovascular life support (ACLS). chainmail.jpgThe contract wasn’t won without a fight, however. The bargaining committee caused a stir around the hospital with several strategic actions, distributing pies to RNs on all units with flyers urging management to increase their share of the hospital’s profits with better raises. And over 200 RNs participated in a “chainmail” action to deliver messages to the hospital CEO. Each link of the chain contained a handwritten note from a nurse supporting a fair contract.Nurses also went public with their message, submitting an op-ed to the Maryland Independent demonstrating the need for improved staffing ratios at UMCRMC to improve care for the growing Charles County population.“I feel good that management finally added more to our education so we can advance our careers. The amount of money we’ll get reimbursed will be doubled,” said David Dutile, a nurse in the emergency department. “I’m also happy that we’ve improved staffing. Our contract is going to make things better for our patients and for the hospital as a whole.”- See more at: