WORCESTER, MASS. (WHDH) – Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester announced Wednesday that it will be hiring permanent replacement nurses amid the ongoing Massachusetts Nurses Association strike.
Nurses at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester met with representatives of hospital owner Tenet Healthcare last week in an effort to end the strike that started March 8 however, the two sides were not able to come to an agreement.
The hospital is planning to fill approximately 50 nursing positions with its first job posting.
Once a striking nurse’s position is permanently filled, that nurse will not have the right to return to work immediately when the strike ends. Instead, in accordance with federal law, they will be placed on a “preferential hire list,” and will be eligible to return as vacancies arise.
Saint Vincent Hospital CEO Carolyn Jackson said that this step ensures the hospital can continue to provide excellent care while being a good steward of its resources, especially given the competitive market for nurses.
“We had hoped we would not need to take this action. However, without a signal that the MNA is willing to compromise and reach resolution, we do not have a choice. We respect that our nurses have a right to strike, but we have a responsibility to our community. Bringing in permanent replacement nurses will help ensure continuity of care as the strike continues,” Jackson said.
The union released a statement in response to the announcement which reads in part:
“In response, the nurses remain unmoved by the announcement, having fully expected Tenet to move in this direction, and see it as yet another desperate attempt to avoid negotiating in good faith with the nurses; while once again demonstrating the for profit corporation’s complete lack of respect for the nurses and the valuable role they have in protecting the community.”
The nurses are demanding increased staffing, which they say is important for patient safety, but their concerns were not addressed, according to the union, Massachusetts Nurses Association. St. Vincent nurses say they are required to care for five patients at a time, while other hospitals have a limit of four patients per nurse.
Tenet said staffing levels are in line with industry standards.
Some nurses chose not to participate in the strike and will continue working alongside the permanant replacements.
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