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Nurses at a Massillon, Ohio hospital addressed the Massillon City Council at its March meeting.  Registered nurses from Affinity Medical Center, one of the Community Health Systems chain of hospitals, sought support from the city council for their demands that the hospital chain improve patient care at the hospital.

The nurses cited chronic short staffing at Affinity Medical Center as a major safety concern.  They stated that the Critical Care Unit (“ICU”) and Medical/Surgical, Telemetry and Endoscopy units are especially impacted by the failure of Community Health Systems to employ sufficient permanent staff.  The RNs said they are unable to provide adequate care to patients. 

Prior to the council meeting, Telemetry RN Tamara Wiseman said “Affinity nurses are bringing these serious safety concerns to the city council because Affinity – and the Community Health Systems chain at large – refuses to address them with us.  Safe staffing continues to be a great concern at Affinity Medical Center.”

The action from Affinity’s RNs is part of a nationwide attempt to focus the nurses’ concerns regarding patient safety within hospitals in Community Health Systems.  Community Health Systems (“CHS”) is the largest for-profit hospital chain in the United States, with over 200 hospitals and 31,000 patient beds in 29 states.  Many of the CHS hospitals are situated in smaller communities and many are the only hospital option for local residents.

Nurses at Affinity Medical Center and several other CHS hospitals have documented unsafe patient conditions for over two years. One of the Affinity nurses who spoke at the council meeting presented a stack of “assignments despite objections” forms.  She explained that each of the forms was filled out by nurses at Affinity who believed that a threat existed to the safety of their patients.

Another RN addressed the fact that,in the last year, Community Health Systems has paid settlements of $75 million and $98 million to settle allegations of Medicaid and Medicare fraud.

In addition to inadequate staff, some Affinity RNs have previously cited inadequate training in the use of electronic health record keeping systems.  The nurses maintain that the lack of training in that system takes more time to process paperwork resulting in less time spent caring for patients.

Studies have demonstrated that one of the most critical factors in patient mortality rates is understaffing.  If you or a loved one has suffered injury in a hospital, contact the experienced Ohio medical negligence attorneys at Clark, Perdue & List.