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Press Releases


DPH Monitoring Health and Safety at Backus Hospital in Norwich During Labor Strike by Nurses

Strike by 400 Unionized Nurses at Backus Hospital Began at 7:00 AM; DPH Also Ready to Ensure Adequate Replacement Staffing if Necessary 

The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) today is monitoring health and safety standards for patients at Backus Hospital in Norwich following a labor strike by 400 unionized nurses that began at 7:00 a.m. today.  According to state and federal laws, DPH has two primary responsibilities related to labor actions at acute care hospitals.  Those include 1) ensuring adequate replacement nurse staffing due to the strike; and 2) to conduct random, daily monitoring visits to Backus Hospital during the strike to ensure that quality standards for safety and patient care are being upheld despite the labor action.  As part of the inspection process, DPH inspectors are reviewing staffing, observe patient care, review medical records and ensure that adequate supplies are available.


“We at the Department of Public Health are hoping that both labor and management at Backus Hospital can work out their differences soon so this strike can end, but in the meantime we are doing our duty to ensure continuity of quality care and safety for patients,” said Acting DPH Commissioner Deidre S. Gifford, MD MPH.  “As of this morning we have executed our operations plan to verify training of any replacement nurses at Backus Hospital and conduct health and safety inspections at the hospital now that the strike has started.  We have a qualified team of inspectors at DPH authorized to conduct as many on-site strike monitoring inspections as needed at any time of day during a strike.  We want to reassure families of Backus hospital patients who may be impacted that we will be vigilant and do what is necessary to make sure your loved ones are being properly cared for the duration of this labor action.”


Prior to the beginning of the strike, DPH reviewed the strike contingency plan provided by Backus Hospital.  The plan was reviewed to determine if the hospital has made adequate arrangements to continue providing patients with uninterrupted services during any strike action.  This includes a staffing contingency plan. DPH has the statutory authority to take emergency action against any health care facility found to be non-compliant with the strike contingency plan or fails to adequately protect the patients. 


Members of the public who have questions or concerns about care provided in a hospital or who want more information about DPH monitoring activities can call the DPH Facility Licensing Section at 860-509-7400 or send an email to DPH.strike.info@ct.gov