UVM Medical delays surgeries, trains backup nurses as strike looms

University of Vermont Medical Center, a 447-bed tertiary care regional referral center in Burlington, has postponed approximately 68 elective surgical procedures and is training 600 temporary replacement nurses as part of preparation plans for a scheduled strike this week, according to a VTDigger report.

UVM Medical Center officials outlined their strike preparation plans July 11 in an emailed news release to Becker's Hospital Review.

Approximately 1,800 nurses, who are represented by the Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, issued a strike notice July 2. The 48-hour strike is slated to begin at 7 a.m. ET July 12 — three days after the nurses' most recent contract expired — unless a contract agreement is reached.

Negotiations took place July 9 and July 10, but so far there has been no resolution.

Pay has been a key sticking point. UVM Medical Center officials said they have proposed 13 percent raises over the three-year contract, with "significant [additional] increases" for nurses in certain roles. The union has sought a 23 percent pay increase over the same timeframe. Both sides said they have made various adjustments to wage proposals during negotiations in an attempt to reach a labor deal. They are scheduled to return to the bargaining table July 11.

Meanwhile, UVM Medical Center is preparing for the possible strike. Isabelle Desjardins, MD,CMO at the medical center, said in a statement no changes are expected with availability of emergency room and trauma services. However, administrators said approximately 68 elective surgical procedures have been delayed, according to the report. Dr. Desjardins anticipates most of the postponed procedures will be rescheduled within the next month.

Additionally, UVM Medical Center confirmed it is training 600 temporary replacement nurses to fill in if the strike occurs. Administrators said outpatient appointments will not be significantly affected.


More articles on human capital and risk: 
Nurses, CHS reach agreement after strike at Pennsylvania hospital
University of Vermont Medical Center nurses intend to strike July 12
Atrium increases minimum wage, affecting 7.5K+ employees

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