Service changes ahead of strike at RI Hospital, Hasbro

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The countdown is on to an impending strike at Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children’s Hospital.

For weeks, Lifespan has been making plans on how to keep the hospitals up and running when the 2,400 nurses union employees walk off the job at 3 p.m. Monday.

It’s brought in temporary workers, but it expects some services will be impacted.

Sunday, Lifespan announced what changes are now in place.

After months of negotiations between the nurses union…United Nurses and Allied Professionals and Lifespan – which operates Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children’s hospital – talks hit a standstill and the UNAP represented employees are set to strike.

“It’s very sad, I wish it didn’t have to happen,” Providence Cardiothoracic ICU nurse Anna Bigden said.

Eyewitness News previously spoke with Rhode Island hospital nurse Anna Bigden.  She’s one of the nurses and other medical professionals ready to walk off the job, fighting for things like what they’re calling equitable pay increases, better staffing and better on the job resources.

“I feel very devalued and I can’t deliver the type of nursing care or be the nurses that I want to be because I’m too busy doing other people’s jobs,” Bigden said.

But hospital leadership has said the negotiation talks have been largely focused on money.

“The topic of on the job resources and staffing levels were never brought to the table during the negotiation process,” RIH/Lifespan spokesperson Christina O’Reilly said.

Lifespan has brought in temporary nurses and other employees to work during the stoppage, although due to scheduling and part-timers it will not be a one for one replacement. 

In part of a statement released Sunday a hospital spokesperson wrote:
“As the state’s only Level One Trauma Center, our doors remain open as always to trauma patients and those in need of critical services that only Rhode Island Hospital can provide.”

The statement goes on to explain changes in place due to the impending strike:

  • The emergency department is on diversion
  • The state department of health has told EMS providers to bring stroke patients to the closest primary stroke centers at other hospitals 
  • All elective services and non-urgent diagnostic testing has been rescheduled for the duration of the work stoppage

The nurses and other union workers will be back at work Friday afternoon. 

According to a hospital spokesperson, the federal mediator has ordered hospital and union leadership to be back at the negotiation table tomorrow morning.

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