Nurses rallying neighbors to advocate for Carney

A group of nurses made the case for the Caritas Carney Hospital at the Lower Mills Civic Association last Tuesday night (Feb. 19), part of an ongoing effort by the Massachusetts Nurses Association to rally support for the hospital. Currently under review by consultants hired by parent Caritas Christi Healthcare and the Attorney General's Office, the nurses were concerned about the possibility Carney would close.

"So many of us have been there forever. I started in 1969 when I went to school there," said nurse Penny Connolly after speaking to the group. "A lot of the people know the nurses by name. I can't imagine it closing."

Out of the litany of pro-Carney arguments presented by the nurses, including the 1,500 jobs it provides, keeping emergency room waiting times lower and fulfilling the mission of "serving the less well-off," the Caritas Carney administration supports the effort, according to spokesperson Margaret Carr.

"The MNA's been really supportive of Carney, we really value that relationship," she said. "The only point we take exception to is the idea that Caritas Christi has not supported the Carney. They have provided financial assistance to us for years and in fact last year they provided $6 million in assistance to us."

As part of their presentation, Connolly asked for a show of hands from people who use the Carney on a regular basis. Less than half the 40 or so people in the hall at St. Gregory's, just a few blocks away from the hospital, raised their hands. Connolly asks each civic association for input on why people don't use the hospital, but said no one has volunteered an answer to that question yet.

"That's the thing that we need to hear," Connolly said. "What can we do to bring you there. And maybe that's what Caritas needs to hear."

The nurses are building a steering committee for a neighborhood wide group that would support the hospital, as well as collecting signatures from area residents who want to keep it around. Contact Brian Moloney at the MNA for more information, 781-830-5704.