WORCESTER – A group of independent medical professionals in Central Massachusetts, not employed by Saint Vincent Hospital, wrote to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker “compelled to ask” for his “intervention in this public health crisis that is threatening the health and wellness of your constituents” as the nurses strike at the Tenet healthcare-based hospital nears its 160th day.
“The Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) has been on strike against Saint Vincent Hospital for 157 days. That is 157 days of the MNA not being there for our patients in our community, 157 days of the MNA striking during a pandemic, 157 days of the MNA throwing parties and events outside a hospital caring for sick patients, and 157 days of the MNA falsely claiming a need for “safe staffing” at a hospital where multiple independent third parties have proven that its staffing is better than most hospitals in our state,” wrote the medical professionals to Gov. Baker on August 11.
“Those of us who have remained inside Saint Vincent Hospital have pulled together, along with qualified replacement nurses, to provide high quality care throughout this strike. This is not sustainable indefinitely, and the hospital recently had to temporarily reduce some services. The MNA nurses striking right outside the hospital could have helped avoid this. The MNA claims it advocates for patient safety and commitment to patients, yet their ongoing strike and actions seem to conflict with that expressed statement. Unfortunately, there is much dissention between the rank-and-file nurses, who we believe do want to return, and the MNA bargaining committee. We have seen first-hand some of the MNA leadership behave in a vindictive and retaliatory manner. This bullying has made it hard for nurses to come back to work,” wrote the physicians.
They include: George M. Abraham, Chief of Medicine, Saint Vincent Hospital, and President of
the American College of Physicians; David Bader, Chief of Radiology, Director of Radiology Residency and Board Member Saint Vincent Hospital; Michael Burns, Chief of Emergency Medicine, Saint Vincent Hospital; Leon Josephs, Chief of Surgery and Board Member, Saint Vincent Hospital, and Chief of Specialties, Reliant Medical Group; and Michele Sinopoli, Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Saint Vincent Hospital, Reliant Medical Group.
“We, physician leaders at Saint Vincent Hospital, are speaking out and going on the record that the current strike led by the MNA is directly preventing our patients from accessing quality healthcare in Central Massachusetts during a global pandemic, and putting us all at risk. We have stayed silent until now out of deference to the bargaining process. However, we have watched the hospital make escalating offers to the MNA, with no resolution. We have witnessed hospital leadership be forced into making the difficult decision to scale back services. We have seen nurses, who we’ve worked with for years, be bullied and leave for jobs elsewhere. We no longer understand the issue and are at a loss as to why the MNA leadership will not allow their members to make a decision about their future, through a vote.We could work anywhere, but we chose Saint Vincent Hospital,” wrote the doctors to Gov, Baker.
“We need Saint Vincent Hospital nurses to come back to work now more than ever. The COVID-19 delta variant is further straining healthcare delivery. We care about Saint Vincent Hospital and the patients of Central Massachusetts, and we are requesting a video meeting with you to better express our concerns, and to request your diplomacy to help find a resolution to end this strike,” concluded the letter to the Governor.
St. Vincent Hospital is operated by Tenet Healthcare, which also operates MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham & Natick.