Metro nurses walk out for one day

Nurses stationed themselves outside their hospitals for a daylong strike.

Nurses at the Abbott Northwestern Hospital strike Thursday.

Nurses at the Abbott Northwestern Hospital strike Thursday.

Kyle Potter

 Nearly 12,000 nurses left their hospitals for one day and took to the sidewalks Thursday in the largest nursing strike in U.S. history.

The six hospital systems involved in contract negotiations began preparing for a possible strike months ago, said Maureen Schriner, a spokeswoman for the six hospital systems involved.

By hiring 2,800 temporary replacement nurses, sending some patients to hospitals not affected by the strike and reducing patient volume, hospitals were able to cope with the walkout without major problems.

Hospital officials were not immediately available for comment.

As the strike concludes at 7 a.m. Friday, a new question will emerge: Can the nurses return to their jobs?

The 14 hospitals told nurses to wait for a phone call before returning to work. Nurses at the Riverside campus of the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview said they had been given the go-ahead to return on Friday morning.

Things are not so certain at Children’s Hospital or Abbot-Northwestern. MNA representatives will lead groups of nurses into the hospitals to ensure they will be allowed to work their scheduled shifts.

The strike’s impact is not immediately clear, and there has been no indication that negotiating will resume soon.

“I think it definitely sends the message we were trying to send,” Munn said of the strike.

“Whether that message is received, I don’t know.”