Published on
by
MedCity News

Thousands of Minnesota Nurses Strike Twin Cities Hospitals

by
Thomas Lee

Donning bright red union t-shirts and waving "We care for you" signs, 12,000 Minnesota nurses walked off the job Thursday.

Unable to reach a contract with six metro hospital chains, the Minnesota Nurses Association launched a 24 hour strike, the largest in the history of the United States.

Nurses
are seeking a three percent annual pay raise and protection of their
pension plan. But the real issue dividing nurses and hospitals is the
union's demand to set a maximum number of patients each nurse can see.

The union says a strict patient-to-nurse ratio will protect patient safety. Hospitals argue tough economic times requires flexibility in staffing schedules.

Picket
lines sprung up at hospitals across the Twin Cities, including Abbott
Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, Unity Hospital in St. Paul, and
Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park.

"Everything is calm right now," said Gloria O'Connell, a spokeswoman for Allina Hospitals & Clinics.

Hospital
officials report reduced volume throughout the day as they rescheduled
surgeries and diverted patients to other medical facilities. Hennepin
County Medical Center in Minneapolis reported a 10 to 15 percent rise in patient admissions. The hospitals have hired about 2,800 temporary replacement nurses.

Nurses say they will return to work Friday morning.

 

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