Brigham and Women's Hospital spent millions preparing for nurses' strike

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Boston-based Brigham and Women's Hospital has spent millions of dollars preparing for a planned one-day strike, according to a Boston Business Journal report.

Union nurses, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, are scheduled to strike beginning at 7 a.m. June 27. However, the nurses have agreed to return to the negotiating table with the hospital June 17 in a last-ditch effort to avert the planned strike, the Boston Business Journal reports.

Still, Brigham is preparing. The hospital has said it is contracting with a staffing agency to hire 700 temporary nurses, who would work alongside about 130 nonunion Brigham nurses. The hospital has also said it will also lock out the nurses for an additional four days in the event of a strike.

Overall, Ron Walls, MD, executive vice president and COO of Brigham, estimated that the hospital has spent more than $5 million related to negotiations and a potential strike.

That figure includes contracting with U.S. Nursing Corp. to hire and deploy 700 contract nurses, hiring outside and internal council to prepare senior leaders during negotiating sessions, and paying senior leaders throughout contract negotiations, according to the report. The hospital also plans to run at 60 percent capacity, the report notes, so that patients receive the best care possible from reduced staff.

"We've had to have these contingency plans since we started," Mr. Walls told the Boston Business Journal. "At any point they could call a strike and immediately thereafter issue a strike vote. If we haven't been working all the way through we couldn't respond."

According to the report, the hospital will have to spend millions more if nurses do call a strike. That would pay for employing the contracting firm for seven days — which includes the five days of the strike and lockout, along with time before to bring contract nurses to the hospital and train them, and after to get them home, the report notes.

 

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