Tenet Massachusetts hospital hires 100+ permanent replacement nurses amid strike

Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Mass., said it has hired more than 100 permanent replacement nurses, most of whom are already serving patients.

The hospital, part of Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, announced the hires Aug. 8, during the fifth month of a strike by members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association.  

The 106 permanent replacement nurses will be joined by additional nurses in the coming weeks, 38 of whom are working through the hiring process, Saint Vincent said in a news release. These nurses are taking over for striking workers. Overall, more than 200 nurses employed by Saint Vincent are caring for patients, according to the hospital, which plans to post the remaining striking nurses' positions over the next few days.

"These new nurses are joining numerous others who have served at our hospital for many years and who are truly focused on patient care. Together they are creating an improved culture within our hospital," Saint Vincent CEO Carolyn Jackson said in a news release. 

"I want to express my sincere appreciation for all caregivers, especially the Saint Vincent nurses who put our patients first by crossing the MNA's picket line, for their courage and resilience. We are enthused by the continued interest of applicants for all our nursing positions and are focused on continuing to deliver the quality care we are known for."

The strike at Saint Vincent started March 8, with staffing the key issue of contention. The union has sought more staffing on most floors, particularly on the medical-surgical floors, telemetry floors and in the emergency department. It also seeks a resource nurse on all floors without or with a reduced patient assignment. Meanwhile, Ms. Jackson has pointed to the hospital's proposal to the union regarding investments in nurse staffing, as well as Saint Vincent's "very high" nurse staffing rating by U.S. News & World Report.

On Aug. 5, Saint Vincent said it offered the union representing about 800 nurses at the facility a "last, best and final" proposal addressing staffing, compensation and workplace safety.

However, the Massachusetts Nurses Association expressed disappointment with the latest proposal saying staffing provisions are inadequate and don't provide improvements needed to keep patients safe and end the strike.

The union called the hospital's most recent announcement about hiring of replacement nurses, "just another in a series of cynical and reprehensible ploys by this multibillion-dollar corporation [Tenet] to intimidate the nurses, instead of engaging in a good faith negotiation with the nurses, as was recommended last week, to provide the staffing levels the nurses to need to protect their patients to end this strike."

The union also accused Tenet of prolonging the strike and called on the company to do everything possible to get striking nurses back into the hospital building.

As of Aug. 9, no new negotiations were scheduled. 

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