Nearly 900 nurses are on strike at one of the state’s largest medical centers, but it is not disrupting patient care.

While Rochester General Hospital staff nurses are going without pay outside the hospital on the picket line, replacement nurses are inside the hospital caring for patients and earning several times more than what the picketers make.

The union and hospital leaders disagree on plenty, but both sides agree that patients must be cared for.

What You Need To Know

  • Replacement nurses from around the country take the place of striking RGH staff nurses

  • RRH utilizes a national firm to fire replacement nurses during the 48-hour union strike

  • RGH says it's hired a reputable company, it’s Joint Commissioned Certified and they have over 350+ coming in to help

So while the talks between Rochester Regional Health and the Rochester Union of Nurses and Allied Professionals are stalled for now as the nurses hold a 48-hour strike, the hospital system has called in backups.

"We’ve hired a reputable company. It’s Joint Commissioned Certified and we have over 350-plus that are coming in to help us today," said Rochester General Hospital Chief Nursing Officer Shari McDonald.

RRH is utilizing a company called U.S. Nursing. The firm offers what it calls health care strike staffing. It states on its website, "providing patients the best healthcare during job actions and staffing shortages." The company provides temporary nurses across the United States.

"These nurses are joint commissioned certified. They are nurses who practice at the bedside through different organizations across the United States. They have two-plus years. And I am confident in the care they can provide and they will be working alongside nurses that are here at RGH," said McDonald.

But the union and some of its members question this action.

"They don’t get to know the system, they don’t understand all the things that our community needs," said Carmen Camelio, president of Rochester Union of Nurses and Allied Professionals. "We’ve got it on our signs here, experienced nurses are priceless. So hopefully the hospital has brought in enough to cover the needs, but we’re the ones that should be up there and it’s unfortunate that the hospital executives allowed it to get to this point."

According to the U.S. Nurse’s website, the company is also currently providing nurses for a strike in New Jersey and gearing up to assist with potential strikes at three other locations in the country.

The strike in Rochester will last until Saturday morning. After that, it’s unclear if and when negotiations will resume.

RRH issued a new statement Thursday afternoon on the situation:

"Despite the challenges of the union strike, the incredible team at Rochester General Hospital (RGH) came together Thursday to make sure our patients continued to receive excellent uninterrupted care.

Very often in strike situations, only a handful of employees from the union cross the picket line to work.  In our case, nearly half of all RUNAP-represented nurses who were scheduled to work this morning, chose to do so and care for their patients instead of joining the strike.

They were supplemented by hundreds of nurses from across our system, nurse leaders and highly-trained temporary replacements who collaborated to care for our community. 

As RGH has been emphasizing, the hospital remained open for business Thursday, as it will be for the duration of the strike.  Scheduled procedures and appointments continued as normal.  We did not experience any unusual levels of cancellations or rescheduling.

We want to thank our community that continued to show its support for our hardworking team members today."