9-month nurses strike estimated to cost Tenet hospital $40M+

A nine-month nurses strike at Worcester, Mass.-based Saint Vincent Hospital is estimated to cost the Tenet Healthcare-owned facility more than $40 million, the Boston Business Journal reported Dec. 30. 

For the cost estimate, the Business Journal analyzed wage data from job postings that found Tenet was offering replacement staff between $95 and $110 an hour for 48 to 60 hours a week. This is double what the hospital normally pays its staffed nurses, according to the report. The wage data was then multiplied by the more than 200 replacement staff hired by the facility by the end of April and multiplied by the duration of the strike, which is estimated to be 43 weeks by Jan. 3. 

The wage rates from the 200 temporary workers suggest that St. Vincent paid anywhere from $912,000 a week to $1.5 million a week, suggesting that across 43 weeks, the hospital has spent about $39.2 million to $64.5 million on staffing alone.

The nurses strike, which started in early March, is the longest recorded in Massachusetts and may also break records for the cost, according to the report. 

Saint Vincent Hospital and the Massachusetts Nurses Association on Dec. 17 reached a tentative contract, paving the way for an end to the strike. The organization is slated to sign the deal Jan. 3. 

The tentative deal guarantees striking nurses will be able to resume previous positions while permanent replacement nurses hired during the strike retain their current roles, according to hospital and union statements. Dallas-based Tenet said it expects to restore striking nurses to their previous positions once union members ratify the tentative agreement.

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