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What to expect at St. Luke's, Essentia during MNA strike

The Minnesota Nurses Association has planned a three-day strike beginning Monday at several local health care facilities.

Nurses hold a news conference outside St. Luke's.
St. Luke’s nurse Larissa Hubbertt speaks at a Minnesota Nurses Association news conference outside the medical center Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022, near other MNA members holding a banner stating a lack of confidence in CEOs Eric Lohn and Nick Van Deelen. Nurses at St. Luke's and Essentia Health have planned a three-day strike next week.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — The Minnesota Nurses Association has planned a three-day strike at several health care facilities in the Twin Ports beginning Monday. Duluth-based hospitals Essentia and St. Luke's are informing patients about what they can expect with their care during that time.

Essentia Health St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth and Superior, St. Luke's Duluth hospital and Essentia Health-Moose Lake are expected to be impacted by the strike.

St. Luke's will be fully open for all in-patient, emergency and clinic-based care. Patient parking will be open as usual. Some non-urgent surgeries and procedures may be rescheduled. Patients should arrive as scheduled unless they hear differently from their provider.

St. Luke's said the health care system has worked with a staffing agency to bring in registered nurses to work with health unit coordinators, nursing assistants, physical, occupational and speech therapists; dietitians, pharmacists, respiratory therapists, hospitalists, lab technicians and other professionals.

Essentia staff stressed, too, that their hospital will also remain open. Administrators there plan to bring in staff from the hospital's other facilities, as well as temporary nurses, as needed. A "small number" of elective surgeries and appointments may need to be rescheduled, but hospital staff will contact those patients directly.

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MNA is holding a pre-strike rally at 5 p.m. Sunday at Duluth City Hall, 100 N. Fifth Ave. West in Duluth, to discuss the strike and share updates about contract negotiations. Bernie Burnham, MN AFL-CIO president, will be the emcee.

MNA members may be picketing outside the hospital campuses. People are advised to drive carefully.

St. Luke's, Essentia, and five Twin Cities health care systems have filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming MNA did not notify the necessary federal and state mediation services. Essentia filed an additional charge on Wednesday, claiming MNA did not include Essentia Health-Duluth on its list of facilities impacted by the strike.

"Because MNA failed to complete a required filing, we believe a strike at this time would be illegal," St. Luke's wrote on its website. "We expect MNA will not ask nor expect their union members to participate in an illegal strike and that they will withdraw the planned strike. However, if a strike does occur, we are prepared."

This story was updated at 8:30 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. Sept. 10 to clarify that St. Luke's is only hiring registered nurses and not other positions within the hospital. The story was originally posted at 5:24 p.m. Sept. 9. The News Tribune regrets the error.

Laura Butterbrodt covers health for the Duluth News Tribune. She has a bachelor of arts in journalism from South Dakota State University and has been working as a reporter in Minnesota and South Dakota since 2014.
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