More than 4,000 nurses begin strike at Allina hospitals

More than 4,000 nurses at Minneapolis-based Allina Health went on strike Sunday, signaling the beginning of a planned seven-day walkout, according to a Star Tribune report.

The nurses, represented by the Minnesota Nurses Association, went on strike at five Minnesota facilities — Abbott Northwestern in Minneapolis, Unity Hospital in Fridley, United Hospital in St. Paul, Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids and Phillips Eye Institute in Minneapolis. As the strike began, some of the nurses were in tears as they left their shifts, and patients were left in the hands of replacements recruited from across the country to cover the walkout, according to the report.

Allina Health brought in 1,400 replacement nurses to get through the week. However, the MNA reported problems at Abbott Northwestern, such as replacements showing up to work in intensive care with their licenses to practice in the state still pending, the Star Tribune reports.

Allina Health officials told the publication physicians, nursing supervisors, respiratory therapists and nursing assistants helped the new nurses acclimate. They also noted that Abbott Northwestern had overstaffed for the day and compensated for the nurses whose licenses weren't finalized or whose skills were mismatched to their initial assignments.

The MNA announced June 6 that nurses rejected a contract offer from Allina and authorized a strike. The contract offer would have phased out nurses' union-backed health benefits.

Allina Health wants the nurses to give up their union-protected health benefits, which include higher premiums but low or no deductibles, and transition to company plans that provide more financial incentives for using lower-cost care, according to the report. The health system anticipates it would save $10 million by eliminating the union-backed health plans.

But MNA nurses don't want to give up their current health benefits without Allina Health making concessions in other areas.

To prepare for the strike, Allina condensed units at Unity so the hospital could function with fewer nurses but planned for full operations elsewhere, according to the report. The report states that between the start of the strike at 7 a.m. and noon, the hospitals had 1,109 patients on their inpatient floors, 67 new emergency room patients and 12 newly delivered babies.

Allina Health President and CEO Penny Wheeler, MD, told the Star Tribune that as of Sunday, 144 union nurses had decided to continue to work during the walkout.


More articles on human capital and risk:

Nevada Regional Hospital workers demonstrate over staffing
Indiana Regional Medical Center reaches stalemate in union contract talks
Sacred Heart physicians reach tentative labor agreement, cancel picket


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