Updated: Mar 16, 2021
Well, I decided to write this post because I think it is important enough to give my opinion on what is happening in Central Massachusetts at the moment. There are currently 800 or so nurses on strike at Saint Vincent Hospital located in Worcester, Massachusetts. The nurses are now entering into week two of a strike that is now considered the longest nurses strike in two decades. These nurses are on strike because of a lack of appropriate staffing, which jeopardizes patient safety. The nurses are fed up with the 5 to 1 ratio. The Massachusetts Nurses Association want the nurses to have no more than 4 patients during a shift. During the pandemic, some nurses had up to 7 patients during their shift. The only time they get help is when an 11 to 7 nurse stays late and a 3 to 11 nurse comes in early.
So, going on strike to stand outside the hospital to picket isn’t jeopardizing patient safety? Every time there is a strike, the hospital needs to bring in nurses from around the state to replace the nurses that are on strike. Some replacement nurses are even flown in and put up in a hotel near the hospital. Saint Vincent Hospital which is part of Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, said it has spent $5.4 million to hire replacement nurses.
The problem with replacement nurses is that they are unfamiliar with the hospital, the equipment and protocols which is jeopardizing patient safety. Also, I assume these replacement nurses are working as independent contractors for Saint Vincent Hospital. If this is the case, then the hospital has no liability for the negligence of an independent contractor.
I am not favoring the hospital or the nurses that are on strike. In my opinion, this is a lose-lose situation for the patients that are currently at Saint Vincent Hospital. Vanguard Health System ran Saint Vincent Hospital until 2013 when Tenant Healthcare acquired Vanguard. Tenant is the company that is having the dispute with the nurses that are currently on strike. Tenant Healthcare has a terrible history, and I am not surprised that these nurses are on strike. I question why the nurses want to be employed by Tenant. I would be embarrassed to be associated with Tenant Healthcare as they have a long history of fraud, performing unnecessary heart surgeries, over-billing Medicare claims, tax dodging and lobbying, and now unsafe, untenable conditions.
As much as I would like Saint Vincent Hospital to continue the operation, this was the hospital where my two daughters were born. Luckily, they entered this world before Tenant acquired the hospital. I think it would be in the best interest of the patients if the nurses sought new employment somewhere else and let Tenant be forced to sell the hospital. Hopefully, a long-established and reputable company will acquire Saint Vincent Hospital. These nurses are going to have a long road ahead if they continue to work under Tenant Healthcare.
If you have to go on strike against your employer, it's probably a good time to GTFO.