Hazard Pay for Baystate Medical Center Employees

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Shyanne Wellington is the force and inspiration behind starting this movement. She is a PCT at Baystate Medical Center. She is humble, kind, patient, intelligent and well spoken. She voiced to her colleagues the need for change. This is the avenue to make that happen.

Baystate Medical Center, located in Springfield, MA, is a 716-bed independent hospital with 2.1 million dollars in total assets and 1.6 million in net assets in the year 2018 (https://2018.bhannualreport.org Since the start of COVID 19, numerous staff members have had their hours cut, have been furloughed, reassigned to new units. Employees have been flexible, adapting to the daily changes in assignments, protocols and life inside and outside of the hospital. Bonuses for RN’s and PCT’s were terminated, these are bonuses many of us rely on to supplement our income to make ends meet.

Frontline workers caring for COVID-19 patients are not only risking their lives, they risk the lives of their families and communities by potentially spreading the virus from daily exposure.  200 Baystate employees were self-quarantined in March after potential exposure. Employees are testing positive for COVID-19. This isn’t a potential risk, this is an actual risk that Baystate’s healthcare workers are willing to make. 

Our costs of living in many cases have increased to meet demands for childcare, separate living arrangements and the costs associated with quarantine and extended hours at home using electricity, increased heating demands and providing all meals at home. Our emotional and mental health is taxed. Employees have had their health compromised. Yet, there is no financial compensation. When you have burnt out and sick employees, the quality of care declines and if Baystate isn’t going to attach a value to what we’re doing during this crisis, we will continue to be worked to our maximum capacity and risk further emotional and physical turmoil and a decline in the quality of care land positive outcomes.  

Administrators have been able to afford paying excessively high hourly rates for travel nurses despite having entire units closed and staff out of work. Per Baystate’s 2018 Annual Financial Report, 38% of their operating costs were related to salaries and wages, a total of $893,842 (https://2018.bhannualreport.org/files/content/financial_letter/2018%20Baystate%20Health%20Audited%20Financial%20Statement.pdf) . 

Published data from 2013 indicates Mark Keroack, MD, earned over $900,000 at the time. The president of the hospital, Dr. Tolosky, earned $1.6 million that year. Fast forward to today. Dr. Keroack is the president of the hospital. While he is advocating for the community by expanding the hospital with a surge unit, providing public education and occasionally rounding on the floors, he has yet to increase pay or advocate for fair compensation in alignment with other hospitals across the state and country for his dutiful employees. 

We, the employees of Baystate Medical Center, demand increased pay, especially during the novel Coronavirus pandemic crisis. We deserve to be paid fairly, and, at the very least, the same rates as our colleagues across the state. Baystate, you can afford this. We demand to be compensated per Gov. Baker’s agreement for state healthcare workers.  Your frontline workers request incentive pay retroactively to March, when the state of emergency was declared until the end of May, or the end of the pandemic, whichever is greater. 

While we appreciate small accolades like snacks  and FaceBook picture frames, it is hardly the recognition and appreciation we deserve. It is an insult to hand out $2 Baystate Cafe bucks when it doesn’t even cover the cost of a coffee. We deserve respect. We deserve equitable fiscal recognition. We are intelligent, educated and essential workers who deserve so much more. We demand increased compensation. We demand hazard pay. 

Support your healthcare workers today by signing this petition and spreading the word.