WORCESTER - St. Vincent Hospital released a statement on Thursday, May 6, following negotiations with the Massachusetts Nurses Association [MNA], the union representing the hospital's striking nurses, on Wednesday, May 5.
At press time, MNA had not released a statement related to Tuesday’s negotiations, but released its “State of Nursing in Massachusetts” survey results, conducted by an independent agency, on Thursday, May 6.
According to a statement from St. Vincent on Thursday, May 6, each side exchanged counter offers during the negotiations on Wednesday.
In a previously released statement on Saturday, May 1, St. Vincent Hospital said it made an offer with the same staffing language as the UMass Memorial Medical Center [UMass]. MNA has publicly advocated for the staffing levels at UMass to be adopted by St. Vincent.
MNA also issues a statement on Saturday, May 1 that said the hospital made a proposal "... that opens the door to a substantive discussion on the nurses’ main issue, which is the need for safer staffing levels to ensure safer patient care."
In negotiations on Wednesday, the Hospital says that MNA showed minimal movement and “… presented a counterproposal that took the best parts from the UMass contract, the existing Saint Vincent contract, last Saint Vincent proposal, and added even more on top of that.”
The MNA counterproposal included items related to staffing and staffing ratios, wages, the wage scale and a benefit pension plan, according to the hospital.
The hospital says after receiving the MNA counterproposal, it made a new offer that showed movement on health insurance premium costs, per diem nurse wages and other language adjustments. MNA’s second counterproposal of the day did not make any modifications on key issues, according to St. Vincent.
St. Vincent said it asked the federal mediator to urge the MNA to hold a vote of its members on the latest proposal.
MNA released its “State of Nursing in Massachusetts” survey results on Wednesday, May 6, conducted by Beacon Research. The survey polled over 500 registered nurses in Massachusetts. A plurality of those polled, 58%, were not MNA members. The survey has a +/- of 4%.
The poll showed 61% of nurses felt they don’t have enough time with patients, up from 47% in its polling done in 2019. It also showed that 59% of nurses polled believe they treat too many patients at one time.
The results also found that 55% of nurses polled say hospital care is getting worse. This is an increase from 39% who said the same in 2019.
The primary demand MNA has stated publicly since the beginning of the strike is an increase in nursing related staffing at St. Vincent Hospital to address patient safety concerns.
Members of the Massachusetts delegation to the United States Congress sent a letter to the members of the board of directors of Tenet Healthcare (NYSE:THC) on Wednesday, May 5. Tenet is the parent company of St. Vincent Hospital.
Massachusetts Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey signed the letter alongside 2nd District Rep. James McGovern and 3rd District Rep. Lori Trahan.
The letter expressed hope “... that both parties can resume negotiations in earnest to immediately end this work stoppage and reinstate vital care for communities in Worcester and across the Central Massachusetts region.”
The letter also said, “Despite calls from local, state, and federal officials and other community stakeholders that such a work stoppage could have catastrophic consequences for the region, our understanding is that Tenet has not taken the meaningful steps to reach an agreement and a new contract.”