Proposed St. Lawrence Emergency Department closure in Lansing endangers patients

Contact: Sara Wallenfang, 517-974-4966

PECSH/MNA registered nurses speak out for community safety

(Lansing, MI) After talking with Sparrow Hospital administrators on Friday, nurses and other healthcare professionals are calling on management to reconsider their plan to close the St. Lawrence campus emergency department.

“Sparrow’s decision to close the St. Lawrence Emergency Department is a public health crisis,” said Jennifer Eyre, a registered nurse in the St. Lawrence Emergency Department. “The loss of emergency services in our already underserved community will be a matter of life and death. Sparrow is too focused on their bottom line to see the impact this will have on the patients whose lives depend on us.”

Nurses feel that Sparrow’s plan, even with the promise of new treatment areas and an urgent care facility, is not enough to ensure that the main campus could safely accommodate more patients. Current wait times at the main campus ER can exceed several hours.

“Our membership, made up of professional bedside caregivers, is in the best position to assess how this will impact our patients and our community. Thus far, we have major concerns,” Jeff Breslin, RN and President of the Professional Employee Council of Sparrow Hospital (PECSH/MNA). “If a patient needs to be in an emergency room, we don’t want them shuffled off to urgent care instead.”

“Management’s proposal for eleven new ‘patient care stations’ at the main Sparrow hospital is misleading. In some cases that is little more than a chair. They aren’t expanding staffing so that patients are treated sooner,” said Andrea Mygrants, a registered nurse in the St. Lawrence Emergency Department. “It breaks my heart to imagine the possibility of my former St. Lawrence patients sitting without adequate attention, and I am not even certain that all of them could safely travel to the main hospital. Two additional miles is a long way when you are sick and don’t have a car.”

“Regardless of where you live in Lansing, this could affect you or someone that you love,” said Windy Lynch, a registered nurse in the St. Lawrence Emergency Department. “Sparrow expects that the main hospital will absorb our patients, and that is dangerously unrealistic.”

“A city the size of Lansing needs what Sparrow is calling ‘redundant’ services. Even if our staffing were significantly increased, it would be difficult to properly care for the additional patient volume, and we are not prepared for some of the mental health issues that are usually handled at St. Lawrence,” said Leanne Heilig, a registered nurse who works in the Emergency Room at Sparrow’s main campus. “People already complain about the wait time, and that isn’t just bad customer service. Some illnesses and injuries worsen without immediate treatment.”

“Whatever happens, our patients and our community come first,” said Michell Kiesling, a registered nurse in the St. Lawrence Emergency Department. “We will have a say in the proposed closure through our union, and if the closure happens, we will advocate for a smooth transition and the highest quality of care. Sparrow administrators are going to have to listen to us.”

For more information or to schedule interviews with nurses, contact Sara Wallenfang at 517-974-4966.

PECSH/MNA, which represents about 2,500 registered nurses and other health care professionals at Sparrow hospital’s main campus and St. Lawrence facility, is affiliated with the Michigan Nurses Association, the largest labor and professional organization for nurses in the state.


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