WORCESTER, Mass., Feb. 11, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- While nurses and patients suffer, for-profit Tenet Healthcare has used furloughs and staffing cuts, along with nearly $3 billion dollars in taxpayer funded CARES Act funding to boost its profits for shareholders and "improve its cash position." Today, as the nurses voted to authorize a strike over the corporations' refusal to provide the staffing and resources to ensure safe patient care, the corporation announced a profit of $414 million.
The 800 registered nurses at St. Vincent Hospital, who are negotiating a new contract with Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, cast an overwhelming vote tonight (Feb. 10) authorizing their negotiating committee to call for a strike should Tenet management continue to refuse to heed nurses' call to increase staffing levels to better protect their patients during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and beyond. The vote comes as the parties are scheduled to resume talks with a federal mediator tomorrow, Feb. 11 where nurses hope Tenet will finally agree to work with them to address their patient safety concerns.
"With this vote, our members are sending a powerful message to Tenet Healthcare that we will do whatever it takes to protect our patients and our community in the face of their blatant disrespect and corporate greed," said Marlena Pellegrino, RN, a frontline nurse at the hospital and co-chair of the nurses local bargaining unit with the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA). "As nurses, we are legally and morally obligated to advocate for our patients to ensure they are safe and receive the care they deserve. We have tried for months to convince our administration and the Tenet corporation to provide us with the resources we need to keep the public safe, yet they only make things worse. While our goal is to avert a strike, should Tenet maintain its obstinance at the table, we will be compelled to take that step because our patients' lives are on the line."
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The vote was scheduled after Tenet issued what it called its "last, best and final" offer at negotiations on Jan 28, an offer which once again, failed to include any proposal to address the hospital's longstanding staffing/patient safety crisis. Nurses were outraged that Tenet chose to draw its line in the sand, just days before Tenet's stock price rose to its highest level in months, a significant increase in shareholder profitability during the pandemic (from $31 on Feb 1, 2020 to close to $49 on Feb. 1 2021). Now, on the same day of the vote, Tenet announced 2020 profits of $414 million, as nurses report their patients in Worcester are experiencing a dramatic increase in patient falls, an increase in patient's suffering from preventable bed sores, dangerous delays in patients receiving needed medications and other treatments – all due to lack of appropriate staffing, excessive patient assignments, and cuts to valuable support staff.