BOSTON (CBS) — About 1,200 nurses returned to their regular shifts at Tufts Medical Center at 7 a.m. Monday, after a 24-hour strike and four-day lockout left them picketing outside for the last week.
There is still no contract agreement between the hospital and the Massachusetts Nurses Association. Mayor Marty Walsh urged the nurses’ union and the hospital last week to negotiate.
“We have our final offer on the table and we feel like it’s a very good offer. This is not a rich organization; we have limited resources and we’ve tried to do the absolute most that we can,” said hospital spokesperson Brooke Hynes.
Meanwhile, hundreds of nurses streamed into the building from across the street, cheering as the clock struck seven.
Mary Johnson, who has been a Tufts nurse for 31 years, told WBZ-TV’s Anna Meiler that the nurses stood up for what they believed in and have no shame about what they did.
“We did not abandon our patients,” she said. “We’re trying to get the support and the resources that we need to be able to take care of our patients, so I think we walk in with our heads held high and believing that what we did was the right thing. That’s all we can do.”
Nurse Cathy Craig told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Doug Cope that the last few days of walking the picket line were well worth it but she cannot wait to go back to work.
“It really united the nurses of Tufts Medical Center, ” she said. “It brought us closer together, it brought us stronger.”
Hynes said they’re looking forward to getting things back to normal.
“We’re pleased to have the care team back together inside of Tufts, and to look forward to working toward a resolution,” she said. “We absolutely are committed to getting there, and today we are really going to focus on patient care.”
Mary Havlicek Cornacchia, the MNA Bargaining Unit co-chair, said, “All of this has become extremely contentious. We’re professional and we respect what we need to do and we hope that we can get respect from the administration.”
The first strike at a Boston hospital in more than 30 years is officially over–but it didn’t pass without controversy.
Tension grew after a hospital spokesperson claimed Sunday that strike supporters attacked replacement nurses, banging on buses, throwing coffee, and yelling profanities.
The MNA responded, saying they do not advocate violence and weren’t aware of the incident until it was reported.
Massachusetts State Police released a statement saying they never responded to any violent incidents, and that no objects were thrown.
Nurses outside the hospital Monday morning said they’ve maintained a peaceful picket line.
CEO Michael Wagner said the center maintained the same level of care they always do during the nurses strike.
The daily average number of patients in beds over the past few days was 270, statistically it is 269 this time of year.
Overall, there were 533 ED visits, 184 surgeries, 16 babies born and approximately 4,200 clinic visits, Wagner reported.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Doug Cope reports