The campaign is being organized as a response to growing concerns over the direction that Lawrence and Memorial Corporation (LMC) has taken the community’s hospital and seeks to provide opportunities for meaningful public participation. Initial efforts include a public service announcement to begin airing on area cable television networks and a new website launched to provide information and resources.
“This campaign is about the people of this community saying ‘no’ to putting profits before patients,” said Harry Rodriguez, a health unit coordinator and president of AFT Local 5123, which represents more than 800 healthcare workers at L&M Hospital. “Lawrence and Memorial has been the community hospital this whole region has counted on for generations. That’s why we can’t let the corporation drive away patients and their families with reckless and irresponsible decisions,” he said.
“‘I Am L+M,’ and we are coming together to say our top priority is quality patient care,” said Stephanie Johnson, a sleep lab technician at L&M Hospital and president of AFT Local 5051, which represents approximately 250 licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and techs. “But I’m concerned that the corporation running our community hospital doesn’t share our values. I worry that they are more concerned with saving dollars than saving lives,” she said.
“Our community deserves better from the corporation that runs our hospital,” said Lisa D’Abrosca, a registered nurse (RN) and president of AFT Local 5049, which represents L&M Hospital’s approximately 539 RNs. “This campaign is about uniting all of us who believe we deserve better than a ‘race to the bottom.’ It’s about the absolute best patient care for our patients, their families, and our whole community,” she said.
The comments of AFT’s local union presidents refer to a rash of recent decisions by LMC’s top executives inconsistent with their obligation to prioritize patient care at L&M Hospital. Examples include cuts to vital public safety and health services, layoffs of caregivers and healthcare workers, violations of federal labor laws, and threats to outsource dining and housekeeping services.
“A great hospital doesn’t just provide excellent care,” said Ocean Pellett, co-chair of the healthcare task force for United Action Connecticut, an interfaith social justice organization. “A great hospital also empowers its staff to advocate for patients, their families, and the whole community. That’s why I’m here to say, ‘I Am L+M,’ and I stand with our nurses and healthcare workers in holding this corporation accountable to our community,” she said.
Pellett was joined at the press conference by the president of the regional chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the executive-secretary treasurer of the Connecticut AFL-CIO. Also in attendance were numerous elected officials, including members of the New London City Council and the city’s mayor, as well as representatives of the region’s legislative delegation.
“I am proud that my former colleagues are demanding that L&M Corporation be held accountable,” said Melodie Peters, a former state senator from the region. “I believe that we must engage our elected officials to preserve and protect quality patient care at our community hospital,” she said. Peters is an LPN who worked at Lawrence and Memorial and serves as president of AFT Connecticut.
The new website, www.IAmLandM.org
, includes a public petition that the hospital’s workers urge area residents add their names to in support of holding LMC accountable to the community. Visitors to the website can also access the video of the first public service spot.
AFT Connecticut, the largest union of acute care hospital workers in the state, represents approximately 1,600 nurses, LPNs, technicians, and healthcare workers at L&M Hospital in New London. Follow the union on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aftct
# # #