Nurses go on strike at 2 Rhode Island hospitals

By John Krinjak

Email: jkrinjak@abc6.com

Twitter: @johnkrinjakABC6

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Thousands of nurses and hospital workers are now on strike in Providence, with no sign of a deal between Lifespan and the nurses union.

2400 employees at Rhode Island and Hasbro Children’s Hospital hit the picket lines Monday, upset about pay, benefits and patient care.

"We never got into this to make a ton of money. Most of us just want to care for patients the best that we can, and Rhode Island hospital is not providing that for us," said Nancy Corio, a nurse at Rhode Island Hospital.

Nurses tell us old broken equipment and inadequate staffing are putting patients in jeopardy.

"Our patients mean more to us than anything. We’re out here for patient safety, for safer staffing. Sometimes our assignments are 30 patients with the emergency department," said one nurse.

During this strike, those patients are being cared for by out-of-state workers.

"Our nurses get 6 to 8 weeks of training. These nurses have had hours. And so we do have concerns," said Linda McDonald, president of United Nurses and Allied Professionals.

Kevin Rea, a cystic fibrosis patient, picketing alongside the nurses, says he’s glad he doesn’t have any appointments this week.

"I worry, because none of them are in here. Nothing against the other nurses that are in there, but these guys are in here every day-the nurses, the respiratory therapists-they know the treatment, the medications, they know everything, they know how it all runs," said Rea.

Union leaders rejected an offer by Lifespan Monday but say they want to keep talking so the nurses can get back to work.

"These are our patients. We take care of them, we want to be in there. But today you’re seeing solidarity that we are not going to take this anymore," said McDonald.

Late Monday evening Lifespan released a statement saying they would prefer these nurses and techs were inside the hospital working with patients, but the company says the replacement workers do have the proper skills and expertise, and that patients are in good hands.

So far no talks between the two sides are scheduled.

These workers will be back out on the picket lines Tuesday at 6AM.

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2018