National Guard troops in combat fatigues bathed and fed patients at state-run General Hospital in Cranston, R.I., after scores of nurses and attendants walked out in a contract dispute. The state, citing a law against strikes by state employees, sought a court order forcing workers to return to the 480-bed, mostly long-term-care hospital. Superior Court Judge Antonio S. Almeida said he would rule today. Seven of the 110 Guard troops on duty had nursing training; the rest were given non-medical tasks such as feeding, washing and dressing patients. More than a dozen acute-care patients were transferred to other hospitals, and the facility stopped admissions. Gov. Edward DiPrete called out the Guard late Sunday after Local 1350 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees voted by a 4-1 margin to reject a proposed 53-cent-an-hour raise offered in return for concessions on staffing.
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