Two U.S. representatives from Massachusetts joined a group of nurses rallying outside Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester on Saturday, where a strike has now been going for 10 consecutive weeks.
Reps. Lori Trahan and James P. McGovern helped host a "Rally Against Replacement" days after Tenet Healthcare, the Dallas-based owner of Saint Vincent Hospital, said it would begin hiring 50 permanent replacement nurses.
The move could mean striking nurses aren't guaranteed a position when the strike ends.
"The message to Tenet is clear: This union won’t be busted by your tactics. These nurses won’t be intimidated. And they won’t be replaced," Trahan said Saturday.
Nurses at the Worcester hospital initially went on strike March 8, with the Massachusetts Nurses Association calling for improved staffing ratios. They are also hoping to establish a pool of nurses with expertise caring for patients in critical condition, and "STAT and Rapid Response" nurses for patients suffering a serious decline in their condition, according to a statement from Trahan.
Saint Vincent Hospital's CEO, meanwhile, has said that bringing in the replacement nurses is necessary to "ensure a continuity of care."
"We respect that our nurses have a right to strike, but we have a responsibility to our community," CEO Carolyn Jackson said in a statement.
Trahan and McGovern have both called on Tenet leadership to end a delay in authorizing COBRA benefits to the striking nurses, who are entitled to continued health coverage under the recently passed American Rescue Plan, according to Trahan's Saturday statement.
"Tenet made a $400 million profit last year," McGovern said Saturday. "They have plenty of money to address the concerns of St. Vincent nurses, but they won’t. It’s wrong."