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May 18, 2021

More striking Saint Vincent nurses to be permanently replaced

Photo | Grant Welker Saint Vincent Hospital nurses picketing outside the Worcester hospital in the early days of the 300-day strike, which ended in January 2022.

Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester on Tuesday said it has added another 49 permanent replacement positions for the striking members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association union, as the 72-day fight over staffing ratios continues.

The latest announcement brings the total number of available replacement nursing positions at the hospital to 102, according to a release from Saint Vincent. The hospital said it has begun screening applicants and plans to start making offers Wednesday.

Saint Vincent has said it is making the hires as a way to reduce the cost of having temporary replacement nurses.

If their position is permanently filled, striking MNA nurses will no longer be able to return immediately to work at the hospital once the strike ends. Instead, they will be placed on a preferred hire list and be eligible to return once vacancies arise.

The MNA has 800 members at Saint Vincent, although about 140 have crossed the picket line to continue working at the hospital, according to Saint Vincent. Their work at the hospital has been supplemented by temporary hires.

The main cause of the strike at Saint Vincent has been over the nurse-to-patient ratios at the hospital, which the MNA says the facility's for-profit parent company, Tenet Healthcare of Dallas, can more than afford to insure patient safety. Saint Vincent has said its ratios are in line with other hospitals, although in the latest round of negotiations with the MNA on May 5, the hospital did offer to change the language its in agreement to be more in line with the staffing ratio policy at UMass Memorial Health, which is the main healthcare provider in Greater Worcester. The MNA counterproposal to that staffing language change, which included other demands, was rejected by the hospital.

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