Medical staffers at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester are pleading with nurses to return to work and end a 200-day strike as COVID-19 cases remain high in the area.
The request comes as COVID-19 and other factors are putting a big strain on the healthcare system throughout the region.
According to a report in MassLive, the medical staff at St. Vincent hospital sent a letter to the striking nurses which urges them to come back to work to help handle the increasing number of patients.
"With the recent elevation of the COVID-19 status in our area to level 3, long wait times at all area hospitals, and the need to have all beds staffed and open, we all need to be there for our patients, now more than ever," the letter reads in part.
Nurses there went on strike six months ago over working conditions.
It’s not the only hospital in the area having problems.
UMass Memorial Medical Center says it has fewer beds and patients are experiencing longer wait times in the emergency room.
UMass Memorial blames COVID-19 cases, the nurses’ strike at St. Vincent and the nationwide labor shortage for its issues.
The nurses’ union has come close to reaching a deal with the hospital in recent weeks, but hasn’t been able to finalize anything.
"The letter is just another tactic to try to put pressure on nurses, but what we will say is that Dr. Nedelescu and our physician colleagues in that building should be appealing to Carolyn Jackson, who has the ultimate responsibility here as to the reason why we are not back to work," said Marlena Pellegrino, co-chair of the Massachusetts Nurses Association St. Vincent bargaining unit. "There’s nothing more than all 700 of us want to be back at that bedside."
The nurses say a recent deal with the hospital fell through because the hospital wants to staff critical care units with inexperienced nurses.
The hospital says it would welcome the nurses back any time and it says the union is being unreasonable.