St. Vincent nurses strike continues as talks stall

Published: 4/27/2021 6:52:19 PM

WORCESTER (AP) — A nurses strike at a Massachusetts hospital is no closer to a resolution after the first negotiating session with management in about two months ended without an agreement, the sides said.

Nurses at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester met with representatives of hospital owner Tenet Healthcare on Monday in an effort to end the strike that started March 8.

The nurses are demanding increased staffing, which they say is important for patient safety, but their concerns were not addressed, according to the union, Massachusetts Nurses Association. St. Vincent nurses say they are required to care for five patients at a time, while other hospitals have a limit of four patients per nurse.

Tenet said staffing levels are in line with industry standards.

Dallas-based Tenet on Monday offered to create an “audit committee” on staffing, but did not directly increase staffing, according to a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Nurses Association.

The MNA reviewed the hospital’s proposal with its membership via Zoom, and the nurses were “devastated, angry and insulted,” spokesperson David Schildmeier told The Telegram & Gazette.

“The strike will continue,” the MNA said in a statement. “Moving forward the union will be in contact with the mediator to see if they can find a path forward.”

A spokesperson for the hospital said it will not concede on staffing ratios.

“Before going back to the table, we reiterated what we have been saying for months, that we will not concede to across the board 4:1 staffing,” Rhianna Sherwood said in a statement.

Staffing guidelines are being followed and “we staff better than most hospitals in the Commonwealth,” she said.

The hospital has about 800 nurses but some have chosen not to participate in the strike. Replacement nurses are caring for patients.

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