Thousands of Registered Nurses in Info Picketing at Hospitals Across NYC; Citing Staffing Crisis, Not Enough RNs and Caregivers To Do the Job For Safe Patient Care

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 16, 2015

(NEW YORK CITY) — After months of negotiations, thousands of NYC’s registered nurses from 14 citywide hospitals took their fight for patient care and safe staffing levels to the community on Thursday with a day-long citywide informational picket. Thousands of nurses gathered in front of area hospitals holding signs and handing out literature to underscore the staffing crisis in their units. They called upon the community to contact hospital CEOs and demand that safe staffing be a priority at their facilities.

“We’re uniting for our patients and we're asking management to prioritize safe RN and caregiver staffing levels that have proven to save lives. There are times when we’re caring for 9 or 10 patients -- even more – and, it’s not possible to give each patient the attention that they need,” said Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, a registered nurse at Montefiore Medical Center and President of the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA). “We went into this profession to be patient advocates. That’s what this info picket is all about.”

Today’s action comes as nurses protest unsafe RN staffing levels in many units, as well as excessive patient assignments for nurses and caregivers that threaten to compromise the quality and safety of patient care. RNs have focused on fighting serious staffing shortages while the healthcare industry is rapidly consolidating.

“As frontline nurses, we know that staffing is a problem. Patients deserve a nurse to be there at all times to care for them," said Patricia Kane RN, a registered nurse at Staten Island University Hospital and NYSNA Treasurer. “As patient advocates, we are dedicated to care for our patients and everyone within our communities. Hospital management needs to assure safe staffing levels and a renewed commitment to patient care.”

RNs and caregivers want to send the community a clear message that patient care is at risk due to unsafe staffing at these hospitals. NYSNA members are asking the community to reach out to hospital CEOs and demand that safe staffing be implemented immediately. “We need the community to partner with us, calling on hospital CEOs to make safe staffing a priority,” said Nancy Hagans, a registered nurse at Maimonides Medical Center's post-anesthesia care unit in Brooklyn. “Contact the CEO of your local community hospital and tell them that patients deserve better. Implementing safer staffing levels are needed to ensure quality patient care for our communities.”

In 2014 alone, nurses at the 14 hospitals signed more than 25,000 formal RN complaints tied to staffing shortages. These were submitted to management with little result in most cases.  In some instances, nurses have seen their patient assignments doubled or tripled.   Formal RN staffing complaints were highest in medical/surgery units, emergency departments and psychiatric units.

Staffing levels at the 14 hospitals fall far short of those set in professional peer-reviewed medical studies on safe RN staffing. This research clearly demonstrates that when nurses take on too many patients, the risk of illness and health complications increases dramatically. “It's gotten worse lately,” said Dawn Minerve, an RN who works at New York Presbyterian’s Columbia Campus Emergency Room. “The hospital practice of understaffing is almost a daily problem for us and it must be addressed.”

###

The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) represents more than 37,000 members in New York State. We are New York’s largest union and professional association for registered nurses. For more information, please visit our website at www.nysna.org.

About NYSNA

We are 40,000 nurses working together to win safe staffing, keep hospitals open for care, stop the Wall Street attack on our patients, and win healthcare for all.