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July 1, 2021

Saint Vincent nurses strike delays modernization of hospital's record system to 2022

A group of striking workers hold picket signs outside Photo | Grant Welker Striking Saint Vincent Hospital workers during the 2021-2022 nurses strike

Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester will delay the rollout of its new electronic health record system, Cerner, until early 2022, citing the ongoing nurses strike as the reason for the wait, according to a memo circulated to staff on June 23.

“Despite having 200 Saint Vincent Hospital employed nurses now caring for patients, we cannot move forward with the go-live when there is no end in sight for the strike,” wrote Carolyn Jackson, the hospital's chief executive officer, in a memo. “Necessary build and training activities would be challenging to conduct under the current circumstances, and we want to ensure that both PBAR and Cerner launch successfully.”

Saint Vincent did not immediately respond to an inquiry into how much this delay might cost the hospital. When UMass Memorial updated its own health record system in 2017, the change took four years of planning and cost $650 million.

The Saint Vincent strike, largely over concerns about nurse-patient staffing ratios, is on the cusp of entering its fifth month. Earlier this week, striking nurses rejected a third proposal from the hospital, submitting a counter-offer just before midnight on Tuesday.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association called the hospital’s most recent offer “the worst proposal made by the hospital since the strike began.”

Although some 200 nurses have reportedly crossed the picket line to return to work, the strike is continuing with daily picketing.

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