As a retired Registered Nurse (R.N.), I read with great dismay the letter to the Free Lance by Louis Wilmington dated Aug. 11. 

Wilmington stated that the financial crisis at Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital can be “traced back nearly two decades of questionable management and board oversight.” At that point I expected he would proceed to discuss a variety of specific examples of ways in which the hospital was financially mismanaged. What followed shocked me.  

The letter was no more than a hit piece directed at the hospital staff and the unions for just wanting too much. In other words, if it were not for them the hospital would not be in its current predicament.  

Yes, it is true that employee wages and benefits are usually the biggest expense a hospital must address. On the other hand, this is also largely true of any industry. In this case though, the letter writer claims the unions were advocating for “unsustainable compensation structures,” as if the nurses and the unions made a deliberate decision to negotiate for compensation that would eventually undermine the financial well-being of HHMH.  

Nowhere in the letter did the writer address the obvious question: If the demands made by the hospital staff were so odious, why did hospital management settle negotiations as it did? Oh, I forgot for a moment. Wilmington did address that question, stating that the hospital negotiators “held affiliations with, or were sympathetic to, the union’s demands.”  

Louis Wilmington never worked for HHMH. He was never a part of the negotiations, but he knows that the administration was, as it were, in the pockets of the unions without providing any evidence for that assertion. I will give him credit for stating at the beginning of the letter that his perspective is purely his own.  

Let’s all keep that in mind—his letter is merely an opinion unsubstantiated by facts or evidence.   

The article also states that if the hospital becomes a for-profit institution gone will be the “days of exorbitant overtime budgets and flexible schedules.” Exorbitant? On what basis does he make that claim?  

Nurses and other staff who work overtime and are paid accordingly, are paid legal and fair compensation for that overtime. Thank goodness there are nurses who will do this when the need is there, so that when patients come to HHMH someone is there to care for them and the hospital can “remain a beacon of health services for our community” as Mr. Wilmington would like it to be.

My career as an R.N. spanned 43 years. The last 12 years I served at HHMH, retiring in 2016.  Throughout those years I made a decent middle class living, as did my colleagues. None of us ever thought we were engaged in a “lucrative profession” as Mr. Wilmington described it. We performed honest work for fair wages. 

Richard Primont


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