Lisa Field named Commonwealth Heroine by Rep. Doherty
TAUNTON – Tauntonian Lisa Field is a longtime labor leader known for her work protecting and improving public sector jobs in Massachusetts and improving access to maternity care in the Southeast. from Massachusetts.
In honor of her work, State Representative Carol Doherty D-Taunton this year selected her as the Commonwealth Heroine of the Third District of Bristol for the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women.
“Lisa Field is the embodiment of selfless dedication to the nurses she serves in her capacity with the MNA,” Doherty said in a statement. “She is uniquely enthusiastic and energetic in all that she does on behalf of nurses, but above all because this work affects the lives and well-being of patients in our Commonwealth hospitals.”
Growing up in a united family
The main unions are in the Field family. She grew up in Raynham and her grandfather was a steelworker union leader. When she was a child, her parents, who as postal workers were also part of a union, had to work Saturdays, so she often accompanied her grandfather to work that day.
Her grandfather would hold office hours on Saturdays to hear complaints from local members, Field said, as she was entertained by her library books.
“The members, while they were waiting, I was reading to them, they were reading books to me from my library while they were waiting for my grandfather to finish,” she said.
Other times, she accompanied him when he went to workplaces to distribute flyers, learning all about the current issues facing the union.
“There has been a lot of discussion at the kitchen table about civil rights and social and economic justice,” she said.
Fight to save jobs
After attending Coyle and Cassidy High School and UMass Boston for college, Field held various jobs including managing JC Penney at the Silver City Galleria. Eventually, she worked at the library at Fitchburg State University (FSU).
At the time, staff did not have a union representative on the campus of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) to which they belonged. So other staff members approached her to ask if she wanted to do the job, and she introduced herself and won the seat.
Field’s first victory as a union representative came just after her re-election. Universities across the state, including FSU, were trying to cut low-paying positions.
“We advocated for maintaining jobs and for the college to really rethink the organization. And in the end, we saved 26 jobs,” she said.
She later ran for President of the State, and after earning her Masters in Applied Communication from FSU, she started working for AFSCME.
” I like helping people. I like to work for and on behalf of workers. It’s really a lot of grassroots community work, ”she said.
Now working for the union itself, Fields negotiated contracts, helped staff at universities like UMass Amherst achieve career ladders, recruited temporary staff into permanent positions, and prompted universities to invest money. money in professional development.
“More certification means more training, more skills, more money,” she said.
In 2016, Field began her current role with the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA), the state’s largest nursing union, as Associate Director of the Legislative and Government Affairs Division where she works as a lobbyist. and organizer.
Protect access to maternity care
Before the pandemic, one of the biggest issues she worked on was protecting access to maternity care in Southeast Massachusetts. For example, when Morton Hospital closed its maternity ward in 2018, she quickly looked into how she could ensure that pregnant women in Taunton and the surrounding area would retain access to maternal health care.
“When this unit was closed it was devastating for this community, especially for low income women,” she said.
Morton, owned by Steward Health Care, planned to send his patients to Good Samaritan Hospital in Brockton, but what happened was not that simple.
“A year after this happened, the MP and I discovered that there was only one practicing obstetrician left here in the town of Taunton,” she said. “And I was hearing stories from nurses at Brockton hospitals that patients were coming in ready to give birth with little or no prenatal care.”
So Field took action by arranging meetings with stakeholders at the Taunton Public Library. Local nurses and politicians, representatives from the Ministry of Children and Family Services, local hospitals and other local agencies and organizations attended.
Together, the group reflected on what they could do to keep maternal health care accessible despite the change. Together, they envisioned and implemented initiatives such as hiring more midwives in maternity wards and increasing transportation to hospitals.
The COVID pandemic felt like “a very long day”
But, of course, for the past year and a half Fields has been working on issues related to COVID.
“It feels like a really long day, the last 16 months,” she said.
At first, Field said, it was about getting PPE for local healthcare workers. She organized donations of PPE for emergency management agencies to give to healthcare workers and the surrounding community, and also helped connect local manufacturers to the state government so they could move on to the production of PPE.
“What I really enjoyed doing is connecting people with people and agencies to find solutions,” she said.
Then Field moved on to helping reopen the state, distribute vaccines, and train businesses on what they needed to do to safely open up through the Task Force on. Brockton’s health equity.
Now, Field said, she is working on what’s called “presumption legislation” that would ensure that healthcare workers who contracted COVID-19 last year, of which there are many, are believed to have contracted the disease at work. This will allow them to get workers compensation for time off instead of having to use accumulated sick leave.
Support for caregivers traumatized by COVID
Field said she was also working on legislation to create a study on the impact of COVID-19 on the behavioral and emotional well-being of children, as well as its impact on healthcare workers.
“The hospitals weren’t allowing visitors. So in some particularly affected places it was really the nurse or CNA holding people’s hands when they died. And it was very, very traumatic.” , she said.
Field said a misconception about his work is that it primarily benefits union members. In fact, she says, she loves her job because it helps all healthcare workers, as well as the community at large.
And that is why she will continue her work, regardless of the next health crisis.
“It makes a difference in people’s lives. I think this work is important for the community,” she said. “Access to health care is important for everyone because we all need health care along the way.”