Last April people across America came out of quarantine each night to cheer the healthcare workers fighting to save lives a the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Sixteen months on, nurses around the US are holding strikes and picket actions amid claims of deteriorating working conditions and severe understaffing issues.
“Most of us felt like we went from heroes to zeroes quickly,” said Dominique Muldoon, a nurse for more than 20 years at Saint Vincent’s hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts.
For over four months, more than 700 nurses at the Tenet Healthcare-owned Saint Vincent hospital have been on strike, the second longest nurses’ strike in Massachusetts’ history. The hospital has brought in replacement workers throughout the strike and have spent more than $30,000 a day on police coverage during the strike.
Muldoon, co-chair of the local bargaining unit, said understaffing worsened during the pandemic, with more staffing cuts and furloughs, while nurses worked through breaks and past scheduled shifts to try to keep up with the demand for patient care.
“Nurses were going home at night in their cars crying,” said Muldoon. “You’ll end up staying late or working through your break trying to fit the workload all in, but ultimately become so frustrated, because eventually you keep trying to overcompensate and cannot keep up with it.”
Even through coronavirus surges, Muldoon affirmed understaffing and cuts were the “new normal” at the hospital, despite nurses going above and beyond during an emergency situation to take care of patients. read more..