Moody's: Strike likely to inflict financial damage on hospitals

A report from Moody's Investors Service says if Twin Cities nurses stage another walk-out, the area's hospital systems would likely suffer damage to their finances.

The nurses union is locked in a contract dispute with 14 metro-area hospitals and clinics, and the union's 12,000 nurses have authorized an open-ended strike that could begin as early as July 6.

Analysts at Moody's Investors Service say a strike could hurt the hospitals' bottom lines. Operating margins could suffer from using costly replacement nurses, and patient numbers and revenues could also weaken.

Moody's report says if a strike raises costs even slightly, hospitals will likely see a significant drop in operating income.

The nurses' demands include mandatory staffing ratios. The hospitals say the union's staffing proposal would add at least $250 million dollars to their costs.

The two groups are scheduled to resume negotiations Tuesday afternoon.

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