Concerns arise as strike hits hospitals on Monday
The countdown begins.
Nurses and other healthcare providers at Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children’s Hospital will go on strike Monday. That’s roughly 2400 hospital workers in the union that need to be accounted for.
Bystanders told NBC 10 Sunday afternoon, that buses rolled into Providence transporting temporary healthcare workers, many of them escorted by security vans. Those nurses and other professionals inside the buses, reportedly started their orientation earlier Sunday morning, getting ready to fill-in during the strike.
Although most health care providers at Rhode Island’s only Level One trauma hospital support the strike, it's a decision deeply hurting nurses in the union who don't want to be away from patients' besides.
“It makes me feel worried for the patients,” said Linda McDonald, President of President of United Nurses and Allied Professionals. “I believe Lifespan has to be held accountable for bringing in replacement workers, who have no idea what they are walking into and they themselves are concerned that they are not prepared.”
But Lifespan, who heads the Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children’s Hospital workers, are determined as ever to keep the doors open as the strike continues, reportedly outsourcing to an out-of-state staffing company
An earlier Lifespan statement says on July 13, “We have developed a comprehensive plan to adequately staff our hospital and meet the needs of our patients. Ideally, we want Rhode Island Hospital nurses caring for our patients, but, in the event of a strike, the hospital is fully prepared to deliver the care our patients need at optimal staffing levels.”
“No matter how Lifespan tries to spin it, business will not be as usual this week,” said McDonald.
That’s where Huffmaster seemingly comes into play.
They’re a the Michigan-based company whose website says they provide staffing relief in hospital strike situations.
Huffmaster publicly posted position openings for healthcare staff to fill in at Rhode Island Hospital, and some of their temporary staff have confidentially contacted NBC 10 confirming employment.
However, when NBC 10 contacted the president of Huffmaster, Craig Johnson, he said he would not confirm any of their clients or talk about their hiring practices.
“These workers will not know where to call, who to get, where the supplies are, where the equipment is, is the equipment broken, if it is, where do you get new equipment?” said McDonald.
Grave concerns from McDonald and she's not the only one worried about temporary staffing.
On the Cumberland Firefighter’s Facebook page – they posted an ill-timed warning, saying in part, “Don’t get seriously sick or injured this week.”
Other local area hospitals that are also primary stroke centers will be taking in patients as usual.
Rhode Island Hospital is the state’s only comprehensive stroke center.