Tenet Massachusetts hospital to hire permanent replacement nurses amid strike

Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Mass., is hiring permanent replacement nurses during a strike by union-represented nurses in its 10th week, according to a May 12 hospital statement. 

The hospital, part of Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, said it is committed to preserving access to high quality care and is hiring the permanent replacement nurses "to provide consistent support and relief to nurses who have returned to work as well as temporary replacement nurses."

Saint Vincent brought in temporary replacement nurses to replace striking ones during the walkout, and an estimated 140 Saint Vincent nurses returned to work during the strike to provide care.

Now, more than two months after the strike began March 8, the hospital needs to consider a more long-term nursing care team approach, Saint Vincent said.

The hospital said it plans to fill about 50 nursing positions with its first job posting, including day-shift positions scheduled for 32 hours or more weekly in critical care and all but one inpatient med-surg unit. 

"This will enable enhanced continuity of care and help reduce the cost of the temporary replacement nurses," the hospital said. "For the time being, the remaining nursing roles will continue to be provided by Saint Vincent nurses or temporary replacement nurses."

The Massachusetts Nurses Association, which represents about 800 Saint Vincent nurses, recently returned to the bargaining table with the hospital. They remain at an impasse on staffing. 

Saint Vincent said nurses whose position are permanently filled won't be able to return to work immediately when the strike ends but will be on a "preferential hire list" and will be eligible to return as jobs open.

After the hospital's announcement, the union said nurses remain unmoved.

"The nurses will continue their efforts to reach an agreement to end a strike that is focused on improving staffing levels at the hospital, staffing levels and working conditions that have forced more than 700 of them to conduct one of the longest strikes in the state's history," the Massachusetts Nurses Association said in a May 13 statement.

Read more about the strike here. More information about the open positions is available here.  

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