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Nurses at Northern Maine Medical Center in Fort Kent vote to join union

Northern Maine Medical Center in Fort Kent.
Northern Maine Medical Center
Northern Maine Medical Center in Fort Kent.

Registered nurses at Northern Maine Medical Center in Fort Kent Wednesday voted to join the Maine State Nurses Association.

Nearly two-thirds voted in favor of unionizing after filing the petition to organize in December.

Registered Nurse Tiffani Daigle said the union will give them a voice in making policies that impact patient care and working conditions.

"We're the front line people. We're the biggest advocates for our patients and for ourselves. And we deserve a seat at the table where decisions and policies are made and we're excited to be able to do that," Daigle said.

Daigle said management should value the members of the community that staff the facility now and she believes that would boost recruitment and retention. She said traveling nurses are currently filling vacancies.

Registered nurse Abby Pelletier said having a say in decisions is their goal.

"Developing a solid union contract is what we have to do. A contract with staffing grids and ratios in place. That's the big key to improving patient safety and working conditions for us," she said.

Pelletier said nursing staff to patient ratios are a problem at the 40-bed facility and at hospitals across the nation.

Daigle said that she wants patients to know that they are safe at NMMC, and that nurses fought for the union to give both patients and staff the care, protection and representation they deserve.

An American Nurses Association study last year reported that nine out of ten nurses surveyed believe their facilities are short-staffed.