WORCESTER, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Negotiations are set to pick back up in Worcester on Saturday afternoon between nurses at St. Vincent Hospital and the hospitals owner Tenet Healthcare.
About 800 nurses have been on strike for the past eight weeks over concerns about staffing issues during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Massachusetts Nurses Association has said that low staffing levels pose a consistent threat to patient safety -- increasing the risk of things like patient falls and delays in receiving medication and time-sensitive care.
Massachusetts State Representative Mary Keefe, who represents the 15th Worcester District, took part in a May Day caravan on Saturday in support of the nurses.
"We depend on nurses, and we depend on that care that they give us. And when they're not able to do it -- I trust the worker, you know, [on] what's happening in the workplace," Keefe said.
The nurses have also gained the support of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, and Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern.
Carolyn Moore, who has been a nurse at St. Vincent for more than 40 years, said that community support has given the union a boost as they head into their ninth week of striking.
"You know I grew up in Worcester, I've been born and raised here my whole life -- St. Vincent hospital is my hospital," Moore said. "[And] it was taken over by this for-profit monster, and it's making changes that are totally unacceptable."
Massachusetts State Senator Harriette Chandler, who represents the 1st Worcester District, also spent part of the day walking the picket line to support the nurses.
"These are my heroes, they believe so strongly in the fact that they want safe staffing, they want us to be safe, the patients," Chandler said.
In a statement St. Vincent Hospital said, “despite the union’s rejection of the last two attempts by the hospital to compromise on staffing, we plan to offer one more solution. Negotiations are about compromise, and we are hopeful the MNA will be reasonable and work with us to bring this strike to an end.”
The two sides will return to the bargaining table at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.
WBZ NewsRadio's Suzanne Sausville (@WBZSausville) reports.