(Boston, July 1, 2017) – Tufts Medical Center leaders announced today that the organization is fully prepared to provide the very best clinical care to patients and the community, should a nursing strike occur. The Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) union notified the Medical Center today of its plan to take nurses out on strike on July 12, 2017. Nurses who take part in the strike would not return to work for at least five days.
“It is extremely disappointing that the MNA has chosen to take this action, especially given that so many of our nurses have told us they do not want to strike,” said Michael Wagner, MD, President and CEO of Tufts Medical Center. ”Due to the MNA’s record of strike threats at numerous hospitals, Tufts MC has been preparing for this scenario, and our physicians and patient care teams, alongside qualified registered nurses from across the country, are ready to provide top quality care throughout any work stoppage. We will let nothing stand in the way of outstanding care at Tufts Medical Center.”
Tufts Medical Center is working with the nation’s most reputable temporary nurse staffing agency to bring experienced and skilled nurses to Boston to care for patients during the strike. The nurses were carefully selected from across the nation and have experience working at academic medical centers, providing complex care to patients. They have also been chosen specifically by needed specialty such as surgical, neonatal and ICU nurses.
Tufts Medical Center and Tufts Children's Hospital will operate as usual. Patients with physician appointments, scheduled surgeries, diagnostic tests or other procedures will keep their appointments unless they have been notified otherwise. The public can access the Medical Center and Tufts Children's Hospital through the main entrance at 800 Washington Street or Emergency Department entrance at 830 Washington Street. Public Safety officials and Ambassadors will be onsite to provide assistance and directions.
“Tufts Medical Center is known for great clinical care and a welcoming atmosphere. This will not change,” said Saul Weingart, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Tufts Medical Center. “An outstanding team of doctors, nurses, social workers, clinical care technicians and others will be here to serve all our patients.”
Hospital administrators have been working diligently since last summer to resolve contract issues – participating in more than 30 bargaining sessions and agreeing to more than a dozen proposals put forward by the MNA. Overall, the Tufts Medical Center package provides wage increases of between 5.5 percent and 10.5 percent over the length of the contract, comprehensive health benefits and a solid retirement savings plan for its 1,200 nurses.
The main issue is the Medical Center’s proposed discontinuation of a defined benefit retirement plan that currently includes only 341 nurses out of more than 5,000 employees. This retirement benefit was frozen for all other Tufts MC employees in 1997because of the millions of dollars it takes to administer- money that does not go to employees or to providing patient care.
“The defined benefit plan covers fewer than one-third of our 1,200 nurses and seven percent of our 5,000 employees,” said Terry Hudson-Jinks, MSN, RN, Chief Nursing Officer of Tufts Medical Center. “Six million dollars a year is wasted on administrative costs to run the plan; this is money that does not go to our nurses. At a time when hospitals are being asked to be more responsible with our patients’ health care dollars, continuing this plan is irresponsible. Our focus is on reaching agreement on a contract that allows us to recruit and retain top talented nurses, while preserving our ability to meet the healthcare needs of this community.”
The Medical Center is setting up a website to keep patients and families informed regarding the strike at www.tuftsmedicalcenter.org/We-Are-Prepared. Patients who have any questions about their medical appointments or access to the Medical Center can also call 617-636-8700.
Media Contact: Brooke Hynes
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