Dr. Eric Dickson, president and CEO of UMass Memorial Health, called the current hospital system in central Massachusetts a 'crisis situation.' He said the ongoing strike between Tenet Healthcare and nurses at Saint Vincent Hospital plays a major role.

"We need to get those 600 nurses on the sidelines back to work," Dr. Dickson said. "Get those beds open."

The Massachusetts Nurses Association agrees.

"We empathize with Dr. Dickson," Marlena Pellegrino said, a nurse at St. Vincent and co-chair of the MNA. "We appreciate that he is stepping in and stepping up to say what a crisis this is in the city."

What You Need To Know

  • UMass Memorial CEO called on nurses and Saint Vincent Hospital to end strike, reopen beds

  • Nurses and hospital agree the local hospital system is overwhelmed as COVID-19 hospitalizations increase

  • Saint Vincent cut back services as a result of the strike, tying up around 80 beds

  • Both sides reached an agreement over staffing in August; nurses said they will return to work if they can keep their original positions

Monday marked day 179 since hundreds of nurses left their job to fight for safer staffing inside the building. After reaching an agreement over staffing on August 16, nurses said they were ready to get back to work, but only if they could return to the positions they left.

"We specifically noted the many reasons, but one of the most important was we knew the coronavirus numbers were surging," Pellegrino said. "The delta variant was and is one of the most dangerous things coming down the pike."

Now, four weeks later, hundreds of nurses are still walking the picket line. With COVID-19 hospitalizations up, beds in the area are hard to come by.

"We are definitely concerned," said Carolyn Jackson, president and CEO of St. Vincent Hospital. "It is really disappointing so many nurses are on the sidelines and choosing not to come in and take care of patients."

Back on August 2, Saint Vincent scaled back some of its services. Even though the hospital has hired more than 190 replacement nurses, Dr. Dickson said it's tying up 80 beds in the system.

"It is really sad that the public is paying for this at this time," Pellegrino said.

"They've have plenty of good opportunities to come back to work," Jackson said. "It is not fair and not appropriate to put the blame on us."

Even before the reduction of services at St. Vincent, Worcester County already had the lowest number of hospital beds per capita in the state.