Unfortunately, Once Again Dallas-Based Tenet Healthcare Failed to Agree to Needed Improvements in Staffing, Signaling Their Intention to Force a Strike Rather Than Protect Patients in Worcester
Nurses are still open to continuing negotiations any time to reach a meaningful resolution to the ongoing patient care crisis at the hospital to ensure safer staffing for all the patients at the facility
WORCESTER, Mass. – The nurses of St. Vincent Hospital and Tenet Healthcare held their second round of talks with management on Wednesday since announcing their intent to strike on March 8. During negotiations, Tenet refused to agree to desperately needed staffing improvements to ensure safer care for all patients at the hospital even as nurses are seeking to avert the planned strike on Monday at 6 a.m.
The nurses opened the talks by presenting a comprehensive proposal to achieve a settlement, making a modification to their wage proposal, as well as agreeing to management’s request to extend the length of the contract from two to four years, assuming Tenet agreed to improving staffing and patient care conditions for all patients at the hospital.
The nurses’ proposal was designed to ensure the same level staffing and quality care, as well as competitive wages and benefits that are provided to the nurses at UMass Memorial Medical Center. More than 100 nurses have left St. Vincent due to dangerous staffing practices, and for better staffing and pay in benefits at other hospitals in the region.
After hearing the proposal, Tenet came back and stated they would not make any changes in their position or negotiate any further to avert a strike.
During talks on Monday, for the first time in 17 months of negotiations, Tenet presented a proposal on staffing, yet their proposal only addressed staffing on two units, with no changes to dangerous staffing conditions 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.
“It is clear from Tenet’s hardline stance on staffing that they are intent on forcing nurses to strike,” said Marlena Pellegrino, RN, co-chair of the bargaining unit. “We are sad to see that Tenet holds so little value for our patients, yet we are resolved to do whatever it takes to protect our patients, as it is safer to strike now than allow Tenet to continue endangering our patients every day on every shift. As we prepare for a strike, we are always ready to get back to the table to negotiate whenever Tenet is ready do the same.”
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.
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.
Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 23,000 members advance the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public.