WORCESTER, Mass., Aug. 5, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, which has already spent $100 million to cause and prolong an historic strike by more than 700 nurses at St. Vincent Hospital to avoid accountability for providing safe patient care, today delivered via email what they are calling their "last, best and final offer" to the union - an offer that once again, fails to provide the improvements in staffing that nurses need to keep patients safe and end the strike, which reached 151 days on Thursday.
Tenet made the unsatisfactory ultimatum just two days after rejecting an offer by the federal mediator to elevate the negotiating process to mediation in Washington, D.C., an offer the nurses immediately accepted as a means of moving the process towards a resolution to the longstanding patient safety crisis at the hospital. The nurses will be in communication with the mediator to determine next steps in the process.
"This in no way represents a good faith effort to find a resolution to this crisis, and just demonstrates Tenet's callous disregard for their nurses, and more importantly, for our patients and our community, whose future health and safety are at the center of this dispute," said Marlena Pellegrino, RN, longtime nurse at the hospital and co-chair of the nurses local bargaining unit with the Massachusetts Nurses Association. "It is only through good faith negotiations not hard-headed ultimatums that a fair agreement can and will be reached."
Today's disappointing proposal contained the exact same inadequate staffing provisions that Tenet had presented at negotiations on Monday -- staffing provisions that the membership voiced strong opposition to at an open meeting held on Monday night. While both parties have come to the table with modifications to their positions in recent weeks, Tenet has failed to address needed staffing improvements in key areas.
As the strike is in its 22nd week, Tenet recently reported profits of more than $120 million for the second quarter of 2021, after posting a profit of $97 million during the first quarter for a total profit for the year of more than $217 million. Since the strike began, Tenet has spent more than $100 million to prolong the nurses strike at St. Vincent Hospital, a fraction of which would have funded the staffing improvements the nurses are seeking.
Adding insult to ongoing patient care injury, Tenet this week announced their plan to close beds and cut services to the patients of Worcester as part of their effort to prolong the strike, all while the region confronts a potential surge in COVID cases due to the Delta variant.
The problems with staffing that Tenet claims have precipitated their decision to scale back services are the direct result of their failure to heed the nurses' concerns that led to the strike and Tenet's efforts to prolong it. Back in May the hospital walked away from the table claiming they would permanently replace the nurses, a threat and a tactic that has obviously failed miserably. After trying to staff the hospital with strike replacement nurses from across the country, the care inside the building has deteriorated, with reports of deplorable care being delivered by these nurses, and chaos within the facility. In recent weeks, the nurses have received reports of a growing number of resignations of technicians, patient care assistants and other staff who no longer want to work under the conditions created by Tenet, while there are 700 nurses with more than 1,000 years of experience and service to the hospital ready and willing to re-enter the hospital to restore a reputation badly tarnished by Tenet.
As to Tenet's touting of Tenet's ranking by U.S. News, the nurses point to their filing of more than 1,000 official reports of unsafe staffing conditions that jeopardized the care and safety of their patients over the 18 months preceding the strike; as well as the only data on the quality of nursing care in the hospital that matters: 700 nurses who have been on strike for 151 days, and a picket sign they wear that reads "If nurses are out here, there is something wrong in there."
For more background on the strike and the issues involved, click here to learn more.
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.
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SOURCE Massachusetts Nurses Association