Hospital reduces services in response to long nurses strike

WORCESTER, Mass. — A Massachusetts hospital announced Wednesday that it is temporarily scaling back some services and reducing capacity in response to a strike by nurses that has now lasted nearly five months.

“In an effort to maintain core health care services that are crucial to the community, St. Vincent Hospital has made the difficult decision to reduce select services,” the Worcester-based hospital said in an emailed statement.

The hospital’s roughly 800 nurses went on strike March 8, demanding better staff-to-patient ratios, which the Massachusetts Nurses Association union says are critical for patient safety during the pandemic and beyond.

The hospital, owned by Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, maintains that staffing ratios are in line with industry standards.

Negotiations are scheduled to resume Monday.

Some staff nurses have returned to work and the hospital has brought in temporary and new nurses to maintain patient care.

Starting Monday, St. Vincent will reduce inpatient staffed beds by 80 and reduce procedural areas by eight rooms, or about 25%.

Some outpatient services will temporarily close, including cardiac rehabilitation and wound care, the hospital said.

The hospital will keep its emergency department fully staffed and work with patients and providers to complete planned treatments and reschedule elective care.

The MNA in a statement said it was “dismayed” by the hospital’s decision and pointed out that Tenet reported profits of more than $120 million for the second quarter.

“We are disappointed that Tenet continues to put a concern for profits over a concern for the care and dignity of the patients we care for at St. Vincent Hospital,” said Marlena Pellegrino, a nurse at the hospital and co-chair of the local bargaining unit. “This is just another ploy by Tenet to threaten the safety of the public and to intimidate our nurses, at a time when we have been working in good faith to resolve this dispute for the good of all in our community.”

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