More than 800 nurses at the University of Illinois Hospital and its clinics went on strike Saturday morning after failing to reach a contract with the hospital.
The nurses, who are part the Illinois Nurses Association, were in negotiations with the hospital through the summer, and their three-year contract expired Monday.
The strike was supposed to include about 1,300 nurses, but a Cook County judge ruled Friday that 525 nurses who work in critical care units couldn’t participate because it would endanger patients’ safety. The University of Illinois Board of Trustees had sued to keep many of the nurses from striking.
The union has said the strike could last seven days. No further negotiating sessions were scheduled for this weekend, as of Saturday.
The hospital was working with an agency to onboard more than 600 nurses and other health care workers amid the strike, Michael Zenn, CEO of University of Illinois Hospital and Clinics, said in a statement Saturday.
The hospital went on ambulance bypass, meaning ambulances were being asked to take new patients elsewhere. The hospital was not taking patient transfers from other hospitals, canceled elective procedures and surgeries, and was working with area hospitals in case it needed to transfer patients, he said.
A main sticking point in negotiations has been nurse-to-patient ratios. The union wants the hospital to set limits on the numbers of patients assigned to nurses, but the hospital has said it prefers a model that aligns patients’ needs with nurses’ skills.