SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) — Nurses gathered outside of Mercy Medical Center in Springfield for an informational picket. Many of them donned their nurses uniform, wore masks, and held signs that read – “Trinity has no mercy”.

Trinity Health New England operates Mercy Medical Center. Renee Centore-Kelly is an ICU nurse at Mercy Medical Center, she spoke with 22News about her experiences during the pandemic.

“We want to be protected,” said Centore-Kelly. “And know that we have the correct equipment that we need to keep us safe, and our patients, and our coworkers and our families when we go home so that we don’t put anyone else through what our patients are going through.”

The nurses say Trinity isn’t consistently providing proper personal protective equipment or (PPE) to its staff – and hasn’t appropriately isolated COVID-19 positive patients.

In a statement to 22News, Mary Orr with Mercy Medical said the following:

Mercy Medical Center and its affiliates celebrates and values its nurses today and every day. We remain proud of all our colleagues that demonstrate their commitment to our community by providing compassionate, healing care to the people we serve.

Safety has always been a top priority and is a Core Value for Mercy Medical Center and its affiliates and Trinity Health Of New England. We have consistently followed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and are deeply committed to providing safeguards and the appropriate level of personal protective equipment (PPE) for all of our colleagues.  We have also continued to learn, study and implement evidence-based best practices from hospitals across the country and believe our vigilance and commitment has kept our colleagues as safe as possible.

Mercy has invested in multiple sessions of training for colleagues regarding how to properly and safely use PPE and provided top experts in infection prevention and occupational health to offer continuing and ongoing education. Mercy also answers questions in real time via a colleague and community hotline that is staffed with nurses seven days a week.  

Additionally, because colleague safety is our top priority, we have adopted universal masking for patient-facing colleagues throughout Trinity Health Of New England. 

We continue to work daily with suppliers worldwide and with government agencies to secure PPE as we navigate a global supply challenge. To be good stewards of our resources, and to mitigate future PPE shortages, we are employing well-established conservation strategies consistent with the CDC guidelines.

“The masks that they give us now don’t fit me,” said Centore-Kelly. “So I have to use the same mask over and over again because I’d rather reuse a mask that fit me than to take a mask that doesn’t fit me and tape it to my face to feel like I’m secure.”

Trinity also operates Providence Behavioral Health in Holyoke which recently announced that it’s discontinuing inpatient psychiatric services. Trinity cited low demand locally for psychiatric services.

But nurses say patients, families, staff, mental health advocates, and elected officials told the Department of Public Health that the services are essential.

In another statement Trinity told 22News they’ll continue to provide those services at other Trinity hospitals:

Inpatient psychiatric services at Providence Hospital in Holyoke will be discontinued as of June 30, 2020, including adult, geriatric and pediatric services.

According to analysis of the most recent inpatient utilization data available, there remains an adequate number of adult and geriatric inpatient psychiatric beds available in the region upon closure of the beds at Providence Hospital. In addition, we now have agreements with the vast majority of our payors to cover inpatient psychiatric services for adults and children at our other Trinity Health Of New England Hospitals, Mt. Sinai and Johnson Memorial.

While licensed for 74 inpatient psychiatry beds, Providence hospital has regularly operated at less than 60 beds—and at times closer to 40—over the past two years due to persistent provider shortages.

Unfortunately, the provider shortage has reached a critical point where it is going to prevent our future ability to provide safe, quality care to our patients. Despite ongoing recruitment efforts and arrangements with locum tenens agencies, we have been unable to find board certified psychiatrists available for hire or long-term placement. This challenge is not unique to us or our area. Shortages of psychiatric providers exist regionally and nationally.

Substance use disorder services will continue at Providence Hospital, including the Acute Treatment Service (detoxification), Clinical Stabilization Service (post-detoxification), and outpatient substance use disorder services, with an intensive outpatient program and a methadone clinic.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association organized Thursday’s informational picket on May 7th because it marks the National Day of Prayer.

Trinity Health is a nonprofit, Catholic health system.