NEW YORK NURSE: April 2008
by Mark Genovese
With the closing of Greenville Hospital in Jersey City scheduled for April 23, NYSNA has been hard at work protecting the interests of the RNs it represents there.
“We told them since word of closure surfaced in April 2007 that we were committed to the very end,” said NYSNA labor representative Ilyssa DeCasperis. “And we’re doing everything to make good on our promise.”
NYSNA has been scouting the local job market, visiting human resources departments of other healthcare facilities, and meeting with hospital officials to protect members’ contractual rights. Some Greenville RNs accepted transfers to nearby Jersey City Medical Center. At press time, NYSNA was reviewing the severance package offered by Liberty Health Systems, the corporate parent of Greenville and Jersey City Medical Center.
The order to close Greenville came from the New Jersey Health and Senior Services Commissioner on March 24. The department’s Hospital Planning Board voted on Feb. 7 to recommend closing the hospital at the request of Liberty Health, which cited financial losses.
The board reversed its November decision to keep the hospital open for six months while local elected officials looked for a buyer and raised funds to support it. Greenville’s ER was to have stayed open for one year in order to accommodate community needs, but Liberty Health planned to close it ahead of schedule.
“This is extremely disappointing,” said Darlene Coccaro, NYSNA nursing representative. “A vital healthcare provider is being closed and once again, it’s a poor community that will suffer.”
RNs voted overwhelmingly in April 2003 to join NYSNA after enduring years of short staffing and excessive overtime. They won their first contract, which addressed these issues, in September 2005.
Thirty-five RNs decided to stay on at Greenville until the end, despite the risk to their jobs, out of concern for their patients. “Any one of us could have worked elsewhere,” said one RN. “But we were dedicated to serving the people of this community.”