SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico’s government narrowly avoided an indefinite strike at the U.S. territory’s biggest public health institution after reaching an agreement Thursday with union leaders.
The looming strike at the Medical Center in the capital of San Juan was scheduled to start Friday at midnight. It would have been the newest blow to Puerto Rico’s crumbling health care system given that it provides care not available at other institutions on the island. The center also cares for patients from other Caribbean islands with limited health care infrastructures.
The deal was reached after health workers, who had been demanding better working conditions and a monthly salary increase of up to $2,000, agreed to an increase of up to $800 following months of negotiations.
On Wednesday, the government said it had prepared for the strike by canceling all elective surgeries, banning the transfer of patients to the center who did not need urgent care and temporarily transferring health workers from other hospitals.