Millinocket Regional Hospital nurses protest against staffing concerns

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MILLINOCKET - Nurses crowded the entrance to Millinocket Regional Hospital on Monday, rallying for changes to staffing minimums.

"Our biggest issue is that we want minimum staffing in the hospital so that we can respond to our patients needs day or night, at any time," said Monique Babineau, president of the Maine State Nurses Association Union local unit 1082.

MSNA has been negotiating a new contract with hospital management since March.

The nurses are fighting for a staff minimum, saying their current numbers are inadequate.

"We need enough staffing in the hospital to be able to look after any crisis, but still be able to look after the patients," Babineau said.

But negotiations so far have not gone over smoothly.

The nurses say that management has threatened to increase the cost of health benefits for nurses in the staff to intimidate them. Management on the other hand says they're following the previous contract's procedures until a new one is in place.

Hospital CEO Robert Peterson said, "We are 100% committed to working with our nurses to assure patient safety at all times. We are hopeful that a new contract can be successfully in place at the next bargaining session on August 17th."

"We give exceptional care, Millinocket is known for that exceptional care. What we're fighting for is to be able maintain that exceptional care," Babineau said.

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