Yes, though we know some staff have not felt heard. All of us in NMC management value having direct access to our staff and having meaningful conversations with them about what is going right, what can be improved, and what they need to do their jobs. For the past few months we have been making concerted effort to meet with nurses and other NMC staff individually, at department meetings, at our staff town meetings, and in other settings. We have talked about how challenging the work is, particularly given national shortages of nurses and other healthcare workers and all of the pressures to reduce healthcare costs. I deeply appreciate their passion for our patients and their commitment to caring for our community. Based on the discussions we had, I have accelerated some improvement efforts that were underway and helped refocus priorities on others. This was needed. I am truly sorry that some of our staff have not felt listened to and that we have not been fast enough in responding to some of their ideas.
Last week, I wrote a letter to all of our employees and said: “I want you to know that I deeply care for each and every one of you. Each one of you have a voice that matters. At times of uncertainty it is important to come together to share fears, concerns, and most importantly solutions, vision, and celebration. The best ideas come from you as you do your work each and every day. Although it doesn’t feel good right now, I want you to know we are stopping, reflecting, and listening. The actions being taken are real and long lasting.” I closed by emphasizing that “The leadership team, management team, and our board are fully committed to moving forward with intention and transparency to channel this passionate energy to create an environment you are proud to be a part of and feel valued, supported, and heard. This is my commitment to you.”
We were informed last week by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that a petition to form a nurses’ union at NMC had been filed. That started a formal legal process leading to a secret ballot election, where each of our nurses eligible to be in the proposed union will have a chance to vote yes or no. The details of who will be eligible to be in the union and the timing of the election are being discussed as I write this. This now becomes a time for all of those who are eligible to vote to learn about what having a union represent them really means. We will do our best to help our staff get the facts to make an informed decision and to see that all our eligible staff take the opportunity to vote.
I’m disappointed that some feel investing in a union would help NMC improve. I do not believe forming a union at NMC is in the best interest of our nurses or our organization or the care we provide our community. I am proud of the care this team provides. I believe we are one team, one family, and together we can continue to provide exceptional care for our community and be a great place to work.
Meanwhile, please be assured that our commitment to exceptional patient care continues uninterrupted. Our nurses and our entire staff live our mission every day with every patient and that will not change as we work through this legal process. That is our commitment to you.
— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer