The Illinois Nurses Association (INA) has calculated the cost to replace the 720 nurses that walked off the job after a 10-day notice at AMITA St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet.
That cost? At least $5 million dollars a week.
Pat Meade, RN, joined WJOL-AM radio Monday morning saying AMITA chose to spend money on breaking the nurses’ union rather than hiring nurses needed to provide safe care year-round.
The money will reportedly pay for the out-of-state replacement nurses being transported on luxury buses instead of negotiating a fair contract that includes safe staffing, according to the Illinois Nurses Association. The INA reports AMITA is recruiting nurses from North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi and Colorado, which are states coping with surging COVID-19 infection rates at an hourly rate of $65 per hour, plus living and travel expenses.
According to Meade, if AMITA re-directed those costs to hiring enough staff and a fair contract, a new contract could be agreed upon immediately, and the strike would end.
“AMITA could increase the nursing staff by 10% for one full year for what they are wasting in one week on luxury buses, out-of-state replacement nurses and high-priced lawyers,” Meade said.
INA has calculated the cost of replacing 720 nurses at approximately $5000 in wages per nurse, per week, plus more than $100 a night hotel lodging, multiple luxury coach buses for daily transport and additional costs for the hospital overhead and administrative expenses.
The cost of one week of the replacement nurses could increase the hospital’s nurse staffing levels by approximately 10% for one year. The lack of nurses at the hospital has led to delayed and missed care, such as medication being given late and patient falls according to the INA.
AMITA is part of a new movement—large national health care conglomerates that get huge federal government bailouts while draining resources needed to hire enough nurses to provide safe care. AMITA’s parent company, Ascension received more than $200 million from the federal government as part of the COVID-19 pandemic relief effort.
Meade and her colleagues are protesting the hospital’s requirement of nurses to care for more patients than is safe. Studies show that the more patients each nurse cares for, the higher risk for the patient.
A GoFundMe has been created for the St. Joseph Nurses Association bargaining unit, who are on a five-day lockout initiated by their employer, AMITA St. Joseph Medical Center. You can support the 700 plus nurses demanding safe staffing for their patients here.