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Saint Vincent Hospital Responds to MNA Falsehoods and Sets the Record Straight

Apr 16, 2020
Over the last several weeks up until late yesterday, we have been working diligently with the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) to come to an agreement on the best way to address the staffing challenges posed by the current environment. Like numerous healthcare providers, we have been acutely impacted by the stay-at-home advisory and government orders cancelling elective procedures, which have forced us to temporarily close hospital services and units where activity is limited. Despite our best efforts to negotiate in good faith with the MNA to resolve these issues, we have been unable to reach an agreement. This is both disappointing and disheartening given the numerous reasonable proposals we have put forth, all of which are solely predicated on protecting the health and safety of every person who walks through our doors.

In light of misleading and untrue statements recently made public by the MNA, here are some important points to understand:
  • Over the course of our negotiation, Saint Vincent conceded on ten different points – the MNA conceded on nothing. These were not terms to be hard wired into a long-term agreement, but rather important flexibilities for 90 days during this crisis.
  • We prioritize safety, proper training, choice and integrity – all while balancing the needs of our community and our hospital.
  • In no situation, would a nurse ever be ‘forced’ to work in a role for which he or she was not appropriately trained – that would serve no purpose and goes entirely against our mission. Instead, Saint Vincent’s proposal sought to give nurses the choice between being trained for a safe alternative assignment or taking time off with or without the use of paid time off, at the nurses’ discretion.
  • The MNA, on the other hand, took the position that a nurse who refused to be trained for an alternative assignment should be able to stay in the hospital and get paid, using valuable PPE, while not necessarily caring for patients. This was a point demanded by the MNA during a public health crisis – which is surprising as caregivers know better than anyone that PPE must be preserved for those who need it.
  • Finally, when we presented our most recent offer, the MNA added last minute proposals about protecting prime time vacation – again, a surprising and questionable demand to make during a public health crisis.
As we make every effort to bring us all through this crisis, and with no agreement with the MNA to date, we have no choice but to implement a series of steps to align our nursing resources with patient care needs. Consistent with our latest offer to MNA, Saint Vincent will grant requests of nurses who have asked to be furloughed and will seek additional volunteers, while ensuring we remain appropriately staffed to care for COVID-19 patients and those in need of urgent medical care. We will continue reassigning nurses to units where there is a greater need for staffing, offering for our nurses to move to different areas with proper training. As always, we will regularly evaluate our requirements and make adjustments that are responsive to the environment and the needs in our community.

All members of our organization, regardless of role or position, must come together as we fight this virus, do the best for our patients and ensure the safety of our Saint Vincent community. Our nurses are outstanding, and we want to thank them, along with our staff, for their selfless efforts – day in and day out. Together, we must all remain true to our most important mission right now – to deliver life-saving care and compassion and bring us all through this difficult time.

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