Forum for March 30, 2024: DHMC nurses

Published: 04-01-2024 3:26 PM

DHMC nurses are better off without a union

Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center nurses do not need a union. We already enjoy many of the benefits that RNs in unions have, if not more and better. According to Zip Recruiter, RNs in Massachusetts earn an average of $97,000 a year. The same source estimates that the average salary for an RN in Lebanon is $90,000. If you consider Massachusetts income and sales taxes, plus union dues, I’m not seeing how RNs represented by the MNA are any better off financially than those of us working at DHMC.

The article (“Union push on again at DHMC,” March 16) states that DHMC has approximately 600 vacancies, however, those positions are filled by travel RNs. While utilizing travel RNs is less than ideal, we are fortunate that our administration is willing to spend the money on travel RNs, instead of increasing nurse-patient ratios. That has not been the case at many hospitals across the country, including in Massachusetts.

Surges in respiratory viruses this winter did result in long waits in the emergency department and placed significant strain on every hospital in the state. The problem at DHMC wasn’t a lack of nurses, but too many patients and not enough beds. The hospital dealt with this surge by making a small number of private rooms into semi-private. Each time this occurred, the patient-RN ratios remained the same (4:1) and only the lowest acuity patients were admitted to the surge beds. Hardly the act of an uncaring and out of touch administration.

Tracy Galvin, our chief nursing officer since May 2023, has in a short period of time begun to make significant changes that will benefit DHMC nurses for years to come. Let’s give Tracy a chance before jumping on the union bandwagon. We have everything to gain by doing this, and much to lose if we don’t.

Lisa Davenport

Stoddard, N.H.

Some joy and sadness at CCBA

Good to see Karp’s Klassic back. (Jim Kenyon, March 19.) Another example of good Lebanon people doing good work for kids.

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At the same time, I never thought I’d see the day when the Carter Community Building Association would be viewed as an unmentionable among old-time residents of the city. Sad and painful.

Roger Carroll

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Sensible wake boat rules
for New Hampshire lakes

Wake boats sell for around $300,000, a price point well out of reach for most people who recreate on New Hampshire’s lakes. So, the issue might not seem relevant to everyone, but the potential costs of unregulated wake sports to New Hampshire’s lakes and economy are far higher than you might imagine.

Last year was New Hampshire’s worst year on record for cyanobacteria blooms which pose health risks for people and animals. Irresponsible wake boating isn’t the only cause of them, but it is a factor that is easily prevented. Wake sports can be conducted responsibly to minimize impacts to water quality and lake ecosystems, but the 3-to-5-foot tall waves and intense propeller wash can do tremendous damage when wake surfing takes place too close to shorelines, or in shallow waters. Irreversible impacts include: shoreline erosion, degradation of fish habitat, uprooting of aquatic plants, reduction of water quality, churning of sediment and release of phosphorus which can lead to toxic cyanobacteria blooms.

New Hampshire’s lakes are vital to our economy. HB 1390 proposes reasonable limitations on wake sports based on sound science. It does not ban or prohibit wake boats or wake sports. The original version of the bill proposed limiting wake sports to areas 500 feet from shorelines and depths of 20 feet on bodies of water of at least 50 acres. Similar legislation has been passed in Vermont and these criteria are supported by numerous scientific studies.

The wake sport industry is strongly opposed to these regulations, and HB 1390 has already been amended, reducing the setback to 300 feet and eliminating the depth requirement.

This week, the New Hampshire House of Representatives was slated to take up the amended version of HB 1390 as well as HB 1301, which would provide a process for wake surfing restrictions for individual lakes. These bills offer important opportunities to reduce the unnecessary impacts of unregulated wake sports. We all have a responsibility to manage our shared resources in a way that allows future generations to experience our lakes as we do today.

Elizabeth Harper, PhD

Wilmot, N.H.

Harper is executive director of the Lake Sunapee Protective Association.