Nurses Picket at Millinocket Hospital to Highlight Staffing Concerns

MILLINOCKET, Maine (WABI) Nurses from Millinocket Regional Hospital, some on their lunch break, took to the streets to get their voices heard Monday.

"The management team is not working with the bargaining unit nurses like we want to see. We want safe staffing. We want recruitment and retention. We want all our patients to know that we are here for them and will always give them the best care that we can get them."

Members of the Maine State Nurses Association say they're fighting for better staffing levels which has been a hot topic for RN's for years.

They say two nurses should be on the floor at all times. Any less can cause a patient to suffer.

"Our main goal was to have minimum staffing in the hospital. so, to have always two RN's on med surge, one RN in the unit, and two RN's in the emergency room."

Monique Babineau, President of the local MSNA unit, says a nursing shortage is on the rise due to many nurses heading into retirement age.

And when that happens, new nurses will have no one to turn to if there isn't enough staff on the floor.

"Brand new nurses have come out. They're very smart. They have all these theories. But, new nurses haven't really experienced all this to develop their critical thinking skills, available their assessment skills, all of that. they need a mentor. If they're the only nurse on Med/Surg, how are they going to grow?"

Hospital staff tell us that they respect the nurses right to picket, but they also say they are doing everything by the book.

In a statement to TV5, Chief Executive Officer Robert Peterson says they are 100% committed to working with their nurses to assure patient safety and that their contracts maintain wages and benefits they all previously agreed to.

The two sides will head back to the table on August 17th.

Regardless of the outcome, nurses say they won't forget about their patients.

"Millinocket is always known for its personal touch and we will continue that no matter what and that is what they're fighting for."