Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Open Letter to the Nurses and Techs of Danbury and New Milford Hospitals

My sisters and brothers of Danbury and New Milford Hospitals,

My name is John Brady and I am a nurse in the emergency department of Backus Hospital in Norwich.
This Friday you have an important decision that will effect your lives and the lives of many.
For perhaps the first time, you have a vote about what happens at your workplace. 
Think about that.
YOU have a vote.
Has that ever happened at work before?

A few years ago we had the same vote at Backus.
Backus had changed.
It wasn't the community hospital that it once was.
Our opinion wasn't appreciated as it once was.
We were no longer caregivers, we had become an  "operating expense."
Our neighbors were no longer our patients, they were "stakeholders."
"Efficiency experts" had come through like a tornado and left a shell of a hospital in their wake.

It was never about the money or the benefits, as important as that is.
It was about having enough staff, enough time, enough supplies and resources and someone who would listen to us, respect us, and engage us in the proper care of our patients.

I'll never forget sitting in the living room of an oncology nurse's home, with she and her husband on the couch.  
We spoke about our common frustrations with the way things had become in OUR hospital and how, if we stood together, we could change that.  As her eyes started filling with tears her hushand took her hand.  
She said, "John, they took away the peanut butter from MY kitchenette to save money.   Peanut butter that I would give on crackers to my patient if I could get their nausea to subside after chemo, When they did that, I said to my husband, I have no hope."
"Today," she said, "you have given me hope."

Are things perfect today at Backus?
But today, we speak freely and advocate for ourselves, our patients, our community, and our hospital without fear.
If you decide to join us on Friday, you will join 10,000 AFT healthcare workers in Connecticut, 29,000 AFT Connecticut members, and 1.6 million AFT national members in being a voice for your patients.

It is your decision, for maybe the first time in your working lives, your decision.
Better than hope, I promise that never again will you stand alone.

In Solidarity,

John Brady
Backus Federation of Nurses
AFT Local 5149

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