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Telegram & Gazette: Mother and daughter walk the line at St. Vincent Hospital picket

Mother and daughter walk the line at St. Vincent Hospital picket

Cyrus Moulton

Telegram & Gazette

Published March 11, 2021, Mother, daughter nurses join picketers in St. Vincent strike (

Learn more from St. Vincent nurses and support their strike at

WORCESTER – Twenty-one years ago, Denise Scotia pushed her daughter Betsy in a stroller while walking the picket line outside St. Vincent Hospital.

Tuesday, Betsy joined her mom on the picket line again, this time as a fellow striking St. Vincent Hospital nurse.

“Twenty-one years later we’re still fighting the same battle against the same company,” Denise Scotia, 52, said outside the hospital’s emergency entrance Tuesday while waving a flag for the Massachusetts Nurses Association. “But the end result is great patient care.”

Betsy Scotia, 23, was glad to join her mother and colleague. 

“It’s kind of a magical thing to be in the same fight together going through the same thing,” Betsy said. (Nursing) is in our DNA. We care.”

Both Betsy and Denise Scotia live in Leicester and nearly have a combined 30 years as nurses at St. Vincent. 

Most of that tenure is Denise’s, as Betsy joined the nursing staff just 1 ½ years ago. But Betsy was already quite familiar with the hospital.

“I always wanted to be a nurse from a young age visiting my mom at the hospital,” Betsy said. “It was a place I had always wanted to work.”

Rick Sinclair/Telegram & Gazette

“The hospital always felt like family,” Denise added.

Betsy said this made the often “very scary” and nerve-wracking process of starting as a nurse easier. 

“The environment I was put in was very comfortable,” Betsy said. “It made becoming a nurse very easy.”

But Betsy said that the COVID-19 pandemic “put a microscope” on already simmering tensions between nurses and management at Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, the owners of St. Vincent.

“I love being a nurse,” Betsy said. “But I can’t be inside just ignoring problems or pretending they don’t exist. We’ve been doing that for years for a company that ignores its patients and staff … we can’t be complacent when we deal with stuff like this that affects patient care.

Denise agreed.

“You’re with a patient on a ventilator and trying to hold up an iPad so that their loved ones can communicate with them as they’re dying, and managers are bragging about buying a new truck.”

“It’s like we’re in two different worlds,” Betsy interjected.

So, once again, Betsy and Denise are on the picket line. This time, now that Betsy is grown up and a colleague, there’s an understanding between the two of what is at stake.

“The only people who know what you’re going through are the people you work with,” Betsy said. 

And appropriately, it’s the next generation of nurses that both Scotias were looking to help.

“What we’re doing today will benefit tomorrow’s nurses,” Denise said.

Learn more from St. Vincent nurses and support their strike at