NEW YORK NURSE: June 2008
Imagine you’re a hospital executive and there’s a truck parked outside of your office with a billboard that says you’re being unfair.
You’d find it embarrassing and want to settle, right?
That’s the strategy being employed by registered nurses at St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center in Manhattan.
The RNs are trying to increase staffing, stop inappropriate floating, and improve recruitment by bringing RN wages to a competitive level. They’re already behind other major Manhattan medical centers because the RNs put off contract improvements between 2005 and 2007 to help the St. Vincent’s network emerge from bankruptcy. Finances have since stabilized, yet management is still dragging its feet – through 30 negotiation sessions since November 2007.
NYSNA arranged for two mobile billboards to drive around the neighborhood and park in front of the hospital. Both referred to the hospital network’s decision to spend millions of dollars on a new building while trying to cut corners on employee benefits and salaries.
One billboard asked: “Will a new hospital building improve patient care at St. Vincent’s? It is what’s INSIDE that counts!”
The other said: “Cost of a new St. Vincent’s Medical Center…$800 million. The cost of losing registered nurses ??? Stop the demolition of quality patient care.”
Plans also are underway to expand the campaign.
“A hospital’s success or failure at RN recruitment and retention definitely has an impact on patient care. This is why working conditions at St. Vincent’s need to be improved,” said Eileen Dunn, president of the bargaining unit. “Quality of care concerns the entire community, so our message is going directly to the public.”