NEW YORK NURSE: January 2013
E.J. Noble Hospital is open again. But what’s next?
For six tense weeks, the North Country town of Gouverneur had to drive 40 miles to get to the nearest hospital. That’s after the New York State Department of Health shut down E.J. Noble Hospital for lab deficiencies. More than 240 hospital employees were without work.
Today, some units at E.J. Noble are back up and running, with Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown supervising the lab. RNs are working to help the hospital rebuild for the long-term future.
“We want the hospital to have a good reputation in the community,” said Deborah Bates, president of the local bargaining unit.”
But serious problems remain.
Because lab operations are still limited, the Health Department hasn’t reopened several other units – nor brought back sufficient staff. Only a third of the bargaining unit’s 30 RNs are on duty, leaving the hospital severely short staffed. Some RNs are being assigned responsibility for up to 13 patients at one time.
When NYSNA confronted hospital CEO Charles Conole in November about short staffing, he stunned the union’s representatives by replying that it was “safe and sufficient.” Management’s abuse and neglect of the hospital’s valuable caregivers is starting to take a toll. From July 2011 to July 2012, the job turnover rate for the RN unit at E.J. Noble was 42%.
Conole has since resigned from his post. NYSNA has said it’s looking forward to working with the new administration to restore the hospital’s services.
“Those of us who are loyal and are committed to continue working at E.J. Noble want to do our part to make the hospital better than ever,” Bates added’ “by focusing on what really counts – providing the best patient care for this community.”