This letter is to respond to two articles written by Jeff Tuttle related to the rehiring of employees at Eastern Maine Medical Center. One article states that many of the positions that were cut were in “administrative and support areas.” The consumers of EMMC should know some of the “administrative and support” people can greatly affect the care they receive at EMMC. Housekeepers, laundry workers, cafeteria workers and unit secretaries are included in this group. Physicians and professional social workers have been replaced by less experienced people.
Experienced secretaries are utilized to place orders for tests, procedures and medications. They assist the nurse in many ways by answering the phones, providing information to visitors and restocking supplies, resulting in efficient functioning of the unit. When these people are absent the nurse will be taken from the bedside to perform these “support” duties.
The article also states that hourly positions were cut back, but 25 employees returned to work with no change in pay, benefits or seniority. I am aware of some support staff as well as some nurses who have had reduction in hours which translates into decreased pay. Some employees were asked to take part-time positions instead of the full-time position they had held. This translates into loss of benefits and eventually less accrual time for seniority.
Everyone employed at EMMC needs to be concerned about proposed budget cuts, but I don’t believe cutting personnel is the most efficient form of cost reduction. Years ago when Dr. Charles McEvoy was chief of staff, he impressed upon his office staff that every time they used a new pencil it resulted in cost to the patient. We could all use a little reminder like this. We have become a generation of frivolity and waste. It is time to take stock of what we can omit during these economic times. There are frivolities we can do without, but let us not consider personnel who are needed for providing adequate patient care a frivolity. Sharon Fields, RNC Frankfort