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UPDATE: UPHS Nurses Strike Ended; Hospital still using replacement nurses

(WLUC)
Published: Oct. 7, 2017 at 6:38 AM EDT
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UPDATE: 8:30am: The Michigan Nurses Association has released a statement following their press conference:

"Nurses employed by UPHS-Marquette, a Duke LifePoint hospital, concluded a 48-hour strike on Saturday at 7AM. At issue is the hospital’s refusal to guarantee minimum nurse staffing levels at all times to protect patient safety.

“From the beginning, management has failed to plan for and ensure long-term, consistent RN safe staffing. Patients deserve better,” said Scott Balko, Operating Room RN and President of the UPHS Marquette RN Staff Council/MNA.

“We are humbled and energized by all of the community support. Nurses thank everyone who helped on picket line or cheered us on from afar,” said Chris Sorelle, Emergency Room nurse and member of the bargaining team. “We will use that momentum to continue advocating for quality care and a safer nursing practice.”

Marquette nurses showed up ready to work at 7AM on Saturday, consistent with their strike notification and with instructions from management to nurses. Yet, Duke LifePoint turned away local nurses in favor of travel nurses.

“Nurses who live here are invested in good patient outcomes because we are caring for our friends and families,” said Stephanie DePetro, Certified Operating Room nurse and Chief Grievance Steward of the UPHS Marquette RN Staff Council/MNA. “Shame on Duke LifePoint for undermining that healing human connection in an attempt to protect their profits.”"

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8am: The Michigan Nurses Association held a press conference at 7:30am shortly after attempting to enter the hospital through the Nelberg Building Doors.

Here on some of the comments made by Stephanie DePetro with the Nurses Association:

" We want to express our sincere gratefulness and how proud we are for you (the nurses) for standing up the last 48 hours.

Letting this hospital know our staffing isn't adequate, letting them know it's not safe for our patients or for our community.

Also, thank you to the community that walked with us. Thank you to the people who donated and to the people with the kind words. Thank you for the honks under the sky walk that echoes through the building.

We know those honks were heard and we know our voices were heard on the inside.

We belong in that building. We belong in that hospital. There is nobody better to take care of our patients than us. The hospital has chosen outsiders, agency staff, to do our jobs. That is not right. We are not in agreement with the safety of our patients. Those patients need to be cared for by us."

WLUC TV6 has reached out for comment from Duke LifePoint. They stand by their former statement from Friday evening. : "UPHS - Marquette has been made aware of rumors regarding a “lock-out” at the hospital. This is inaccurate, and we would like to clarify with the community.

A “lock-out” is a situation that occurs when an employer takes preemptive action to prevent employees from working. This is not happening at UPHS – Marquette.

As previously shared, we retained a nationally respected staffing agency to secure highly qualified replacement nurses during the MNA’s declared two-day work stoppage. A minimum commitment of five days is required to secure this level of nursing coverage, which therefore means we expect to be fully staffed with replacement nurses Saturday, Sunday and Monday – Oct. 7, 8, and 9. After these dates, our regular nursing staff will be back at work as usual.

We have made numerous efforts to notify our nurses that we may be fully staffed on these dates both prior to the work stoppage and since its commencement Thursday morning, and we will continue to do so until staffing returns to normal following the work stoppage.

We want our team back at work and will be happy when they return. In the meantime, we will continue to ensure the uninterrupted delivery of the high quality, safe and compassionate care that our patients and community members expect and deserve."

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7:26am: The Nurses Strike at UP Health System Marquette has officially ended.

At 7am nurses attempted to get into the hospital through the Nelberg Building doors. The doors were locked.

Many of the nurses who were expected to work this morning had been contacted by the hospital that they were not needed Saturday morning.

The Michigan Nurses Association will be holding a press conference this morning. Stay tuned with WLUC TV6 on mobile/website for the latest.

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After picketing for 48 hours straight nurses from UP Health System Marquette are getting ready to head back to work. But many have received texts/calls from the hospital calling them off of work for Saturday.

That is consistent with the hospital statement released Friday evening:

"UPHS - Marquette has been made aware of rumors regarding a “lock-out” at the hospital. This is inaccurate, and we would like to clarify with the community.

A “lock-out” is a situation that occurs when an employer takes preemptive action to prevent employees from working. This is not happening at UPHS – Marquette.

As previously shared, we retained a nationally respected staffing agency to secure highly qualified replacement nurses during the MNA’s declared two-day work stoppage. A minimum commitment of five days is required to secure this level of nursing coverage, which therefore means we expect to be fully staffed with replacement nurses Saturday, Sunday and Monday – Oct. 7, 8, and 9. After these dates, our regular nursing staff will be back at work as usual.

We have made numerous efforts to notify our nurses that we may be fully staffed on these dates both prior to the work stoppage and since its commencement Thursday morning, and we will continue to do so until staffing returns to normal following the work stoppage.

We want our team back at work and will be happy when they return. In the meantime, we will continue to ensure the uninterrupted delivery of the high quality, safe and compassionate care that our patients and community members expect and deserve."

The following statement is a response from Scott Balko, Operating Room RN and President of the UPHS Marquette RN Staff Council/MNA:

"No one knows our patients or our community as well as Marquette nurses. From the beginning RNs and community members have called on Duke LifePoint to invest in full-time permanent safe staffing levels.

Consistent with correspondence received by nurses from Duke LifePoint, nurses will be prepared to return to work on Saturday at the conclusion of the strike.

Nurses thank everyone who turned out to the picket line or otherwise showed solidarity. We have felt so much support from our town, the UP, and across the state during the last forty-eight hours. The strength that our neighbors lent us will be used to continue to advocate for patients over hospital profits."

Watch the strike end LIVE on WLUC TV6 and FOX UP on Television or by using your Mobile App. WLUC TV6 will continue with coverage throughout the Today Show as well.