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.
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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."