A strike threatened for next week at Calais Regional Hospital apparently has been averted, following an announcement Wednesday that the hospital and a bargaining unit of the Maine State Nurses Association have reached a tentative agreement.

In a statement, the hospital said the two sides reached agreement on issues involving health insurance and paid time off during negotiations on Tuesday. The proposed agreement, set to last two years, still needs to be ratified by the bargaining unit.

“I am pleased the negotiations have ended and look forward to continuing as a unified team to care for our patients and community through the pandemic and beyond,”  the hospital’s chief executive, Rod Boula, said in a statement. “I appreciate the efforts of all in finding a solution we can all support. In a sign of good will, the union has agreed to withdraw the strike notice.”

A dispute over leadership and working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic had led nurses, lab workers and other employees at Calais Regional Hospital to call a two-day strike, starting next Wednesday.

The workers said they blamed Boula for a range of alleged problems, including dangerous working conditions during the pandemic and irresponsible spending practices. The hospital characterized the conflict as a disagreement over health insurance and time off. Its statement Wednesday did not mention working conditions.

The strike would have been another setback for Calais Regional, a 25-bed hospital that serves a largely rural population in northeastern Washington County and is among the largest employers in the area. The hospital filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2019, an action it blamed on years of declining patient use, high levels of charity care and bad debt, among other things.

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