As about 150 unionized nurses at The Aroostook Medical Center are poised to go on strike Friday and Saturday, officials assured the public that the Presque Isle hospital will continue to provide safe, quality patient care, uninterrupted.

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Dr. Jay Reynolds, MD, chief medical officer at TAMC said, "We have been working with a national staffing company to bring in highly qualified, temporary replacement nurses to ensure that care. These nurses will work alongside TAMC nurses who choose to continue working during the strike."

TAMC and the Maine State Nurses Association have met seven times over the past few months to negotiate a new contract. Although they have reached tentative agreements on 16 proposals, there are a few issues unresolved. One issue is wages. TAMC is offering the nurses an annual increase of 3% plus their step increase each year for three years, the length of the contract.

The nurses’ union, meanwhile, has advocated for hiring more staff to give a ratio of one nurse for every three patients.

Earlier this month, the union notified TAMC that members plan to strike Friday, July 22 and Saturday, July 23. Union nurses at the Presque Isle hospital plan to return to work early Sunday morning.

Dr. Reynolds said that TAMC has a strong plan in place during the planned work stoppage.

"We appreciate the important role our nurses provide in patient care. They absolutely make a difference in patient safety, outcomes and satisfaction. We will continue to negotiate with the union to ultimately come to an agreement that is in the best interest of our patients, our nurses and the organization as a whole."

"We will have extra security at the hospital,” Reynolds said. While we do not anticipate any problems, we want to be sure that everyone, including our nurses, is safe during this time."