NEW YORK NURSE: January/February 2009
by Randi Hoffman
For the first time, a member who is not a registered nurse has been elected to the Delegate Assembly (DA). This ground-breaking delegate is Diane Groneman, a respiratory therapist at Peconic Bay Medical Center (PBMC) in Riverhead, Long Island. She began her term in January 2009.
The DA is an elected group of NYSNA members that advises the Economic and General Welfare Program (EGW). There are currently 33 DA members who work to build unity among the local bargaining units. They are elected to serve four-year terms.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. We’re all professionals. We paid dues, but had no voice. We should have a voice in what is going on,” said Groneman. “I was not going to run, but Barbara Crane encouraged me to run for the seat. She thought I should step up.”
Groneman grew up on Long Island and began her career as an LPN. “I’ve been at Peconic Bay Medical Center since 1979,” she said. “I first worked as a nurse from 1976 to 1985 on med-surg floors and the ICU. I was doing a lot of respiratory rehabilitation with my post-surgical patients. I became used to operating ventilators and conducting respiratory diagnostic procedures.” Groneman then studied to become a respiratory therapist at the California College of Health Sciences in San Diego.
“I’ve been attending the NYSNA Conventions, but this is a whole new role for me,” she said. “I’m not sure what my full duties and responsibilities will be, but I look forward to the challenge and meeting the other delegate members.”
Crane will complete her term as president of the DA in April. “It was obvious to me that Diane was one of the very few non-nurse members interested enough to attend Convention and the Congress of Local Bargaining Unit Leaders,” she said.
“She was seeking an equal place on our governing bodies for herself and the other professionals in our organization.”
Eileen Schneider, NYSNA associate director, added, “Diane is a very diligent person. She’s been a good resource for speaking to the concerns of the professional members. She has been at every meeting, and has spoken at the DA on any number of occasions.” Schneider was the staff resource person for the DA’s professional zone task force.
NYSNA has about 350 members who are not RNs, at PBMC, Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk, N.Y., and Champlain Valley Physician’s Hospital in Plattsburgh. All of these members have four-year college degrees and professional titles as designated by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). At Peconic they include pharmacists, x-ray technologists, lab technicians, respiratory and physical therapists, and social workers.
“It is truly historic. This is the first time we have acknowledged these silent members in the DA’s 20 years of existence,” said Crane.
“Our prior structure did not allow for this group to have a voice at the Delegate Assembly,” said Schneider. “Each of the three units is located very far from one another. It was the professional members from Peconic Bay who came to the DA several years ago and requested to be given a voice in the process.”
The professional zone task force was established in September of 2007 when Crane began serving as president of the DA.
“Establishing a single seat on the DA to assure that professional members would always have a place on that body was a significant step. The members of the DA voted unanimously to make this possible by recognizing the rights of our professional colleagues,” explained Crane.