800 nurses at Tenet Massachusetts hospital to strike March 8

The 800 registered nurses at Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare's St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Mass., plan to strike March 8 over staffing and patient care, according to hospital and union statements.

Nurses issued an official 10-day notice Feb. 23, after authorizing the strike Feb. 10. A strike may be avoided if an agreement is reached.

"Nurses have been pushed to the brink with unsafe staffing conditions by Tenet for more than two years. We refuse to be pushed any further and are now ready to do whatever it takes to ensure the safety of our patients," Marlena Pellegrino, RN, a front-line nurse at the hospital and co-chair of the nurses local bargaining unit with the Massachusetts Nurses Association, said in a Feb. 23 news release. "While it is an agonizing decision to decide to strike, we are committed to do so on March 8 unless Tenet comes to its senses and finally puts its concern for patients ahead of its desire to increase its profits at our patients' expense."

The strike notice comes amid 17 months of contract negotiations. Nurses contend the hospital has not addressed their concerns and that patients' health and safety is in jeopardy because of inadequate staffing, excessive patient assignments and cuts to support staff. They say that nurses have left the hospital for better pay and benefits.

But in a statement shared with Becker's Hospital Review Feb. 23, the hospital said it has listened attentively and made multiple successive and increasing offers to the union. 

"We presented the best proposal in 10 years that comprehensively addresses wages, including increases as high as 22 percent for some nurses, and increases to differentials, benefits improvements of up to $4,600 for part-time nurses in out-of-pocket premium costs, additional nursing roles and enhanced ER security," the hospital stated.

St. Vincent also said that staffing guidelines in the nurses' contractare comparable to or better than peer facilities.  

The hospital expressed disappointment about the strike notice, but it said the facility will remain fully operational and patients will be cared for by qualified replacement workers if there is a walkout.


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