Leaked Memo: Hospital Execs plan to ignore public promise; will work instead to undermine patient safety efforts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: John Nemo, MNA, 651-414-2863 or e-mail

ST. PAUL (December 6, 2010) – An internal Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) memo recently obtained by the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) reveals that Minnesota hospital executives have no intention of honoring their very public pledge to work hand-in-hand with nurses to solve the unsafe staffing crisis that garnered international media attention during 2010 contract negotiations.

Instead, the explosive memo reveals that hospital executives from across the state will invest an extraordinary amount of time, money and manpower in a three-year public relations and lobbying campaign aimed at defeating any attempt by Minnesota’s nurses to improve unsafe staffing conditions.

 

“We are deeply disturbed by the details contained in this memo,” said Minnesota Nurses Association President Linda Hamilton, RN. “At the conclusion of 2010 contract negotiations in the Twin Cities, these hospitals literally told anyone within earshot that they were committed to working with – not against – nurses when it came to addressing unsafe staffing. Instead, we’ve learned that they are likely going to spend hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of dollars, countless hours of staff time and other resources to fight against the very nurses they’re supposed to be working with.”

The memo, sent by MHA President Lawrence Massa to MHA senior leadership and hospital executives, includes the following details:

  • The MHA has already retained the Public Relations firm Himle Horner Inc., which masterminded the Twin Cities Hospitals’ anti-nurse, anti-union PR campaign during 2010 negotiations. Himle Horner will implement a “coordinated, long-term, sustained media and public relations campaign focused on what hospitals are doing to ensure quality, safe patient care in Minnesota and why [nurse-to-patient] ratios are not effective or needed,” according to the memo.
  • The hospitals will also use Himle Horner, whose founder, Tom Horner, had an unsuccessful gubernatorial bid in 2010, for a “sustained effort” of “communications and strategic activities” in response to any legislative or public relations efforts by Minnesota nurses in regards to improving unsafe staffing.
  • More than 30 hospital executives from across the state – including CEOs, Presidents, HR officials, Government Relations experts and PR and Communications directors – will make up a “steering committee” designed to “guide MHA’s advocacy efforts.”

“The hospitals want to spend the next three years flying directly in the face of what they promised to their patients, nurses and the public earlier this year,” Hamilton said. “How is any of this in the best interest of the patients and the communities these hospitals are supposed to serve? How is this good financial stewardship and leadership from these nonprofit executives? The public should be outraged, and I think they will be, once they read the details of this memo.”

More than 12,000 Twin Cities nurses conducted a one-day strike for patient safety on June 10, 2010. It is the largest nursing strike in U.S. history. Twin Cities Hospitals and nurses eventually reached a contract settlement in early July, more than four months after negotiations had begun.

Founded in 1905, the Minnesota Nurses Association represents more than 20,000 nurses across the state. It is also an affiliate member of National Nurses United (NNU), the nation’s largest nursing union, which has more than 160,000 members across the country.

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