Moose Lake Nurses picket outside Essentia Hospital

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Moose Lake nurses were out picketing at the Essentia Hospital they work at Tuesday over contract disputes.

Essentia bought the Moose Lake Hospital location from Mercy back on 2020, and terminated their existing contracts. And from there the nurses say it’s been a struggle to get a contract from Essentia.

"We’ve been battling for the last almost two years trying to get a contract settled”, says nurse Amanda Paull.

In response to the picket, Essentia put out the following statement:

“We value our nurses and the role they play in helping to advance Essentia Health’s mission of making a healthy difference in people’s lives. We respect their right to conduct informational picketing if they so choose. During this time, our facilities will continue to serve the Moose Lake community with the commitment to excellence our patients expect from Essentia Health.”

The nurse contracts are put in place to ensure the nurses basic scheduling guidelines to prevent burn out. They include guidelines to things like benefit hours, sick leave, and annual raises.

Amanda Paull says, "We are arguing about just some boiler plate language that should be easy enough to come to an agreement and they are kind of fighting us the whole way on everything."

And with the Moose Lake Essentia Hospital contractless nurses say that has caused many to leave the hospital.

Sarah Lambert says, "Nurses leave because they are not happy. Everyone else has contracts, so they go to places that have a contract and are happier."

This loss of workers has now caused problems according to the nurses.

Nurse Paull says, "Sometimes on a weekly basis we have to go on a divert, so we send the patients to different hospitals. Some of our patients have to stay in the ER for days waiting for a bed."

The short staffing situation caused concern for one patient who would like to be unnamed. They sided with the nurses saying, "All they care about is the patients they want a contract so that they can be safe and when they are safe the patient is safe."