Friday, August 28, 2015

A Conversation with Alana Wesson

As a first installment in a series of profiles of SHARE leaders and members, we present: Alana Wesson! Alana is a Worcester native. She worked at the Memorial Hospital for 35 years, wearing a range of hats, in departments including Bed-Control, the EICU, and on many of the nursing floors at Memorial. (She spent a year at Hahnemann, too, but who's counting?) Alana spent some of that time as SHARE co-president, before joining the SHARE staff as a full-time organizer.

And now, we are sorry to say, Alana has rented herself a condo near the coast. She works at a charming little inn, and intends to spend as much of her time as she can combing the shore for beach glass.

Alana has been a good friend to many in our hospital community. I’m really lucky to have been one of them. I wanted to ask Alana for a few candid thoughts about her work in the hospital and with our union, for posterity, and, more selfishly, for advice. Here’s how that conversation went . . .

Five Tidbit Friday: August 28, 2015

This week's Five Tidbit Friday is all about SHARE, a preview of things to come. (Not that there haven't been significant happenings in the outside world, including the NLRB's Browning-Ferris decision earlier this week.) We'll be talking and posting about all of these items with more detail soon:

  • Raises are coming in the first week of October 2015. This raise is the final negotiated raise of the current contract period, which runs until October 2016.
  • Raise time is a smart time to assess your financial plans for retirement, and consider your 401(k) contribution, as we'll discuss in an upcoming post.
  • Of course, we intend to negotiate more raises in the coming contract. We've consistently negotiated strong contracts with good benefits, including our defined-benefit pension and health insurance. We expect the SHARE negotiating team to begin meeting with hospital management next year. This time we're setting our sights on improving our hospital culture. Right now we're having preliminary conversations with SHARE members throughout the hospital system about what we could negotiate to make it feel better to come to work every day.  
  • Speaking of the contract, we've refreshed the "Contract" tab above with a single searchable and printable document. This contract includes all of the current policies and agreements we've negotiated, as well as SHARE's guiding philosophies and principles.
  • And finally, a request: if you'd like to give a shout out to a fellow SHARE member, let us know! Is a SHARE member really helping you in your job? Doing something to make the hospital better? Taking great care of patients? We'd love to recognize them here. Send an email to, or call 508-929-4020, and let's share the kudos.

See you here next Friday. Have a great weekend.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Five Tidbit Friday: August 21, 2015

Welcome to the first installment in a new SHARE blogging experiment: Five Tidbit Friday, five observations about SHARE members and our community, and about the broader world of healthcare, personal health, higher education, labor, workplace issues, etc. Here’s five things we note this week:
  • The UMass Medical Farmers’ Market has gotten really good, with lots of fresh and local food right on the quad. It’s happening every Tuesday from 1-5 pm through October.
  • And, Labor Day is coming. One particularly fitting way to spend the day would be at the Bread & Roses Heritage Festival in Lawrence. The festival’s mission is "to recognize, commemorate, inform, and share the labor history and social justice legacy of Lawrence's 1912 Bread & Roses strike with Lawrence's present day residents and people ​​worldwide."

See you here next Friday . . .

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Patient Portal

There have been multiple postings about Electronic Health Records (EHR) on the SHARE blog recently because, since the hospital implemented the Fair-Warning audit system, SHARE Reps have seen a distinct rise in the number of members being disciplined for accessing records inappropriately. Things aren’t as they used to be. Many rules have changed. People have even gotten in trouble for looking up an appointment time for their own young child. See these previous posts for more information about accessing Electronic Health Records and Fair Warning.
When someone gets in trouble for improper use of EHR, the employer quickly points out that employees who wish to look up appointment times, pay bills, etc., should use the Patient Portal. If you haven’t yet signed up for the Patient Portal, consider doing so now; that way it’s all set up before  you have an urgent need for the information there.  If you're unfamiliar with it, the hospital's Patient Portal website describes the site's features, and how to sign up.
We would love to know your experience getting signed up. If you've experienced problems getting access to Patient Portal through your provider, or have had problems with the site itself, we would like to know your story, so that we can help the hospital know how to improve the system. It’s only fair that they make the system usable. If you have questions or concerns, please send an email to, or call the SHARE office (508-929-4020).

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Chocolate Day 2015: Save the Date

Members of our sister union at UMass Medical School have much to celebrate. They are currently receiving copies of their new contracts; Labor Day will be here soon, along with the beginning of the new school year; and, together, we will all soon be celebrating our 18th year as a union.

Accordingly, you're invited to save the date for one of the finest SHARE traditions, CHOCOLATE DAY! We will be spreading chocolate-y cheer throughout UMMS in September. If you happen to be on the University campus, please plan to stop by and join the festivities at the main event:

Friday, September 18th, on the Main Campus, Faculty Conference Room, from 11:30a-2:00p

Chocolate Day has been a tradition since 2005. Everyone is welcome to join us in the celebration -- SHARE members from the School and Hospital, other union members, non-union staff, managers, doctors, students, friends, family.

We encourage you to support our friends in the Medical School, and to show off your own chocolate handiwork by donating some homemade chocolate goodies to Chocolate Day.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

New Hospital Form for Use of Sick Time

If you have recently taken sick leave from work, you may be wondering why the hospital has asked you to fill out a form describing your reason for being away.

Last Fall, Massachusetts voters voted overwhelmingly in favor of a ballot question about earned sick time. The proposal aimed to provide sick-time accrual more broadly to Massachusetts workers, with the intention that waitresses and per diems and adjunct teachers will no longer face a conundrum when they get sick: choosing between keeping their jobs -or- staying home to get healthy.

When the new law was implemented, most of us were surprised to learn that it included a requirement that all employers keep records about absenteeism. Employers across Massachusetts are now scrambling to quickly incorporate this unexpected new record-keeping. UMass Memorial has followed the State Attorney General’s directive, as described in a recent News & Views, and is now requiring all employees to complete a form when taking sick hours from work. SHARE and UMass Memorial already have negotiated sick time policies; these new requirements seem unnecessarily cumbersome, and it's not surprising that some SHARE members are frustrated by this new form.

Because this new aspect of the law was so unexpected, employers and unions across the state have many questions about how to handle it properly. For the moment, all SHARE members should know these two things:

  1. This is all in flux. We are talking about it with Human Resources, and getting it figured out.
  2. Until we have reason to understand otherwise, we recommend that all SHARE members fill out the form if they’re asked.

We will keep you posted with developments. Please keep us posted if you have questions or concerns about how your department is working to comply with the new regulations.