U of Chicago makes final preparations for Sept. 20 strike

Citing a breakdown in contract talks, University of Chicago Medicine is making final efforts to prepare for a one-day strike nursing strike, hospital officials said in a news release.

The strike is slated to begin at 7 a.m. Sept. 20, affecting about 2,200 nurses, who are represented by National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United. A strike can be avoided if both sides reach a contract agreement. However, hospital officials said talks broke down late Sept. 18.

"We're disheartened that we had to get to this point," said Sharon O'Keefe, president of the 618-bed University of Chicago Medical Center. "We worked long and hard negotiating with the help of a federal mediator and had hoped union leadership would meet us halfway. We now have to focus our efforts on safely operating our hospitals and caring for the patients who depend on us."

Those efforts include asking ambulances to take patients to other hospitals as well as contracting with hundreds of temporary workers from across the U.S. to replace the striking ones. Temporary workers are slated to work for five days.

Hospital officials said temporary workers "began arriving in Chicago … this week to begin orientation. They will continue serving patients in the medical center and work to maintain normal operations at its outpatient clinics and pharmacy."

According to the Chicago Tribune, hospital leaders said they had sought to keep normal hospital operations but that fewer temporary nurses were available Sept. 20 due to planned strikes at other U.S. hospitals.

Given the circumstances, hospital officials said the medical center is ensuring it is fully staffed to meet patient needs by moving pediatric patients in the intensive care unit to other hospitals, limiting transfers from community hospitals, temporarily closing various inpatient units and rescheduling some elective procedures, among other efforts.The medical center's pediatric and adult emergency departments are still treating walk-in patients.

The medical center's efforts come months after the nurses' contract expired in April. 

The Tribune was unable to reach the union Sept. 18. However, nurses have said they seek better staffing levels, in addition to other contract issues, the newspaper reported.

According to the Tribune, both sides reached a deal on staffing but could not reach an agreement on incentive pay for future job applicants.


More articles on human capital and risk:

U of Chicago moves patients, closes units in preparation for nursing strike
St. Luke's nurses set to strike Oct. 3
Nurses plan strikes at Tenet hospitals in 3 states



Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars