BOSTON (CBS) — Officials at Tufts Medical Center said they are prepared in the event that nurses go through with their planned strike on Wednesday.
“We have all the resources we need… to take care of all our patients,” Chief Nursing Officer Terry Hudson-Jinks, RN, said at a press conference Monday morning.
The one-day strike is a protest of what the Massachusetts Nurses Association says are the hospital’s “safety issues.” They’re asking for more nurses, wage improvements, and pension protections for the 1,200 nurses they represent at the hospital.
It could be the first strike at a major hospital in Boston in more than 30 years.
Barbara Tiller, a nurse co-chair of the union negotiating team, told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens there are three major unresolved issues with the hospital.
“Staffing, wages, and an adequate retirement package,” said Tiller, who has been a nurse at Tufts for 27 years.
Tufts Medical Center CEO Michael Wagner, MD, however, says the only issue is money.
“They believe that they can hold Tufts Medical Center hostage for more money,” Dr. Wagner said at the press conference. “Money that our organization simply does not have.”
The MNA said they are planning for the strike to end at 6:59 a.m. on Thursday. The hospital had said it would lock the nurses out for four more days, but at the press conference, Hudson-Jinks said any nurse who wants to come to work Wednesday can.
“We are not locking them out,” she said.
A negotiation meeting is scheduled for Tuesday morning. Without an agreement, nurses will likely strike.
“Our nurses have done everything they can for the hospital and the patients that we serve, and there’s a line, and we cannot cross it,” said Tiller. “We cannot spend another shift of not having what we need to provide the care that we need to provide for the patients.”
If the strike does happen, officials said 320 replacement nurses have been brought in–at a cost of $6 million that has already been spent–so that appointments can be kept and the hospital can stay open and operate fully.
Dr. Wagner said it was “unthinkable” that the Massachusetts Nurses Association would take the nurses out on strike, but said the hospital was “ready to provide the very best care we provide every day.”
A post on the Massachusetts Nurses Association Facebook page Monday claimed the hospital was preemptively trying to “cover up” the strike, and criticized the hiring of replacement nurses.
“Meanwhile,” the post read, “300 replacement RNs — who don’t know the hospital, its patients, its procedures, its systems, etc., and who have been hired by management — will be inside attempting to care for Tufts patients. There’s no hiding that risk and danger from patients, is there?”
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports