News & Events

St. Vincent Nurses and Tenet Management Resumed Negotiations Tonight But Tenet Failed to Provide the Staffing Changes Needed to Avert a Strike at This Time

Tenet Healthcare returned to the negotiating today with the St. Vincent Hospital nurses, which the nurses hoped would signal a move on the for-profit corporation’s part to finally make a serious proposal to address the nurses call for desperately needed staffing improvements to ensure safer patient care, which could avert a strike against the hospital by the nurses on March 8.  

While the hospital did come to the table with a proposal with minimal staffing changes on two to of the telemetry units, their proposal made no changes to the staffing levels sought by the nurses on 10 other units where the majority of patients are cared for, including the critical care units, emergency department, maternity, behavioral health and other medical surgical floors.  The proposal also failed to include any increases in support staff, such as secretaries and patient care assistants on the units, as well as patient care observers to watch over patients at high risk for a fall so that nurses can focus on providing care to acutely ill patients.  

In response to the proposal, the nurses were meeting with members on Monday night to craft a comprehensive counter proposal to share with Tenet at the next session, in the hope that further negotiation could result in a reasonable solution to the growing patient safety crisis at the hospital.

Included in Tenet’s proposal was some additional wage increases over a longer-term contract, but this would leave the current unsafe conditions in place indefinitely.  The nurses are clear that the improvements to patient care conditions for all patients are of paramount importance and must be addressed immediately to avoid a strike.

“We are committed to continuing the process started tonight to reach an agreement to avert a strike,” said Marlena Pellegrino, RN, co-chair of the bargaining unit.  “But this proposal fails to provide us with what we need to keep our patients safe, and if nothing changes, we will be forced to strike as our patients lives are on the line without the improvements we are seeking.”

The 800 SVH nurses, who are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA), voted overwhelmingly on Feb. 10 to authorize the strike and last week issued the required notice to conduct an open-ended strike beginning at 6 a.m. on March 8.  

In the last year alone, nurses have filed more than 500 official “unsafe staffing” reports where they informed management in real time that patient care conditions jeopardized the safety of their patients.  The nurses also report their patients in Worcester are experiencing an increase in patient falls, an increase in patients suffering from preventable bed sores, potentially dangerous delays in patients receiving needed medications and other treatments – all due to lack of appropriate staffing, excessive patient assignments, and cuts to valuable support staff.   As a result of these untenable conditions, more than 100 nurses have left the facility, many to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, which employs many of the staffing practices the nurses are attempting to establish through this negotiation.

For a more detailed review of the staffing crisis, efforts by nurses to convince Tenet to address the crisis, as well as proposals nurses are seeking to improve patient care, click here to view a previous press release on the matter.