WORCESTER, Mass. - As part of what they describe as a result of the ongoing nurses strike, Saint Vincent Hospital will "reduce select services" starting next week.
Among the services being scaled back by the hospital include reducing the number of staffed inpatient beds by 80, reducing inpatient psychiatric capacity by 50% and closing cardiac rehab and wound care outpatient services.
In a statement released Wednesday morning, the hospital says, "...the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) has chosen to strike on a platform full of false allegations about staffing, quality and safety. The strike has now surpassed 20 weeks, and it has become unsustainable to maintain all of the services that have been provided since it began on March 8."
The statement continues, "(The nurses) irresponsible decisions are now putting healthcare access for Central Massachusetts residents in jeopardy as the hospital is forced to make extremely difficult choices. The service reductions now will preserve access to core services and preserve jobs for SVH staff that may otherwise be at risk."
Saint Vincent Hospital says the MNA is "deliberately" extending the strike through the summer. The strike is approaching 150 days next week.
The hospital says they will keep a fully staffed Emergency Department, and add ED staff as needed.
In a statement in response to the hospital's announcement, the MNA says the nurses "...were dismayed to see the hospital’s threat to scale back services and once again, compromise care for the residents of Greater Worcester when there are 700 nurses outside the hospital ready and willing to get back into the building to provide the care and services their patients expect and deserve."
The MNA says scaling back services is a direct result of meeting the nurses concerns which ulimately led to the strike back in March. The hospital walked away from negotiations in May, following the announcement the hospital would use replacement nurses.
The MNA says the move to use replacement nurses "...obviously failed miserably."
“We are disappointed that Tenet continues to put a concern for profits over a concern for the care and dignity of the patients we care for at St. Vincent Hospital,” said Marlena Pellegrino, a nurse and co-chair of the local bargaining unit with the MNA. “This is just another ploy by Tenet to threaten the safety of the public and to intimidate our nurses, at a time when we have been working in good faith to resolve this dispute for the good of all in our community.”
Tenet and the MNA are scheduled to get back to the negotiating table on Monday.
Check back for updates on this developing story.