U of Chicago moves patients, closes units in preparation for nursing strike

Pediatric patients in the intensive care unit at University of Chicago Medicine are being moved to other hospitals in anticipation of a one-day nurses' strike slated to begin at 7 a.m. Sept. 20, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Hospital leaders notified hospital staff of the plans via a memo obtained by the newspaper.

More than 2,000 nurses, who are represented by National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United, could still avoid a strike if they reach a contract agreement with hospital management.

Patients being transferred in anticipation of a strike include babies and children in University of Chicago Medical Center's neonatal and pediatric intensive care units, according to the Tribune. The hospital memo said new patient transfers from other hospitals will not be accepted, and some elective surgeries and appointments are being rescheduled.

"Because of the union's actions, UCMC has moved thoughtfully and quickly to adjust our operations and lower our census," Kenneth Polonsky, MD, executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Chicago, and Sharon O'Keefe, hospital president, told staff. "The safety and care of our patients will always remain our No. 1 priority."

According to the Tribune, University of Chicago Medicine also has closed at least four adult units, including an adult intensive care unit, and ambulances will be asked to take adult and pediatric patients to emergency departments at other locations. The hospital emergency department will continue to accept emergency patients who come to the hospital by car or foot.

The nurses' contract expired in April, and the union said it would call a strike if issues raised in negotiations weren't resolved.

The union said it did not want to call a strike but would do what's necessary to address patient care issues, such as staffing levels that they say keep nurses from providing the best care possible.

The hospital said it plans to hire temporary nurses to replace the striking ones, and temporary nurses would work for five days.

According to the 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.


More articles on human capital and risk:

California nurses to strike Sept. 20
Colorado Kaiser workers authorize nationwide strike affecting more than 80,000 employees
Nurses plan strikes at Tenet hospitals in 3 states

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