Saint Vincent Hospital Scaling Back Services Due to Ongoing Nurses Strike

Jul 28, 2021

Focus is on sustaining operations as the MNA intends to strike through the summer

Worcester, MA – July 28, 2021 – Saint Vincent Hospital remains committed to the residents of Central Massachusetts, its patients, its providers and its staff, delivering high quality healthcare for over 127 years. As a testament to this quality, Saint Vincent was recognized yesterday as a “Best Hospital” for 2021-22 by U.S. News & World Report, a highly-regarded, independent third party organization that specializes in comparisons and rankings. U.S News & World Report ranked the hospital ninth in the Commonwealth, largely as a result of earning “High Performing” ratings in six common adult procedures and conditions. U.S. News specifically recognized Saint Vincent Hospital as having “Very High” nurse staffing, the highest score available, in all of the procedures and conditions where U.S. News & World Report evaluates nurse staffing. The only other top 10 hospitals in Massachusetts with “Very High” nurse staffing are Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Tufts Medical Center.

This recognition only adds to the unambiguously strong record of quality and safety at Saint Vincent Hospital. SVH’s nurse staffing had already proved to be better than 74 percent of peer hospitals in the Commonwealth, according to public quality data. Despite these accolades, the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) has chosen to strike on a platform full of false allegations about staffing, quality and safety. The strike has now surpassed 20 weeks, and it has become unsustainable to maintain all of the services that have been provided since it began on March 8.

In an effort to maintain core healthcare services that are crucial to the community, Saint Vincent Hospital has made the difficult decision to reduce select services. These reductions are a direct result of the bargaining committee of the MNA and its supporters deliberately prolonging the strike through the end of the summer, and coincidentally, the end of supplemental COVID unemployment and COBRA subsidies. Their irresponsible decisions are now putting healthcare access for Central Massachusetts residents in jeopardy as the hospital is forced to make extremely difficult choices. The service reductions now will preserve access to core services and preserve jobs for SVH staff that may otherwise be at risk.

Beginning Monday, August 2, Saint Vincent Hospital will be scaling back both inpatient and outpatient capacity in the following areas:

  • Inpatient staffed beds will be temporarily reduced by 80 beds, including:
    • 2 of 8 medical/surgical units and a surge unit, 29% of medical / surgical capacity
    • 1 progressive care unit, 25% of critical care capacity
    • 10 inpatient psychiatry beds, 50% of inpatient psychiatry capacity
  • Procedural areas will be temporarily reduced by 8 rooms, 26% of procedural rooms, including reductions in the operating room, cardiac catheterization lab, endoscopy and interventional radiology
  • Select outpatient services will be temporarily closed, including
    • Cardiac rehab
    • Wound care

SVH will maintain a fully staffed Emergency Department, and add ED staff as needed, to ensure high-quality care continues. The hospital will work closely with patients and providers to complete planned treatments, and reschedule elective care, as needed.

In addition to the service reductions, the prolonged strike by the MNA has also caused delays to service enhancements for area residents. These enhancements, aimed at improving the health and wellness of community members, that will continue to be postponed include:

  • Addition of a linear accelerator to increase local access to radiation oncology
  • Addition of neuro-interventional radiology
  • Addition of advanced GI capabilities
  • Upgrade of PET/CT technology for oncology, cardiac and neuroscience patients
  • Expansion of access to CT surgery providers
  • Expansion of behavioral health staffing to cover 20 beds
  • Upgrade of electronic health record system with Cerner

Scaling back services is something Saint Vincent Hospital had hoped it would not need to do, and this decision was not an easy one. By preserving core services now, Saint Vincent Hospital will be able to sustain operations and continue that commitment and performance. The hospital hopes to resume these services and enhance them once the nursing strike ends.

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