Code Blue at Jacobi ER

With the hiring of a new Director of Nursing in January, Jacobi Medical Center’s nurses are hopeful that they will have a new ally to work with to solve the staffing crisis in the hospital’s Emergency Department.

ED staffing has been deteriorating for the past several years, and “It’s not uncommon for 4 or 5 RNs to care for 60 to 70 patients,” according to Sean Petty, RN and LBU President. The growing crisis in the ED spurred nurses to develop an outreach program to raise awareness of the threat to this important community resource. In early fall, the nurses began a concerted POA campaign that culminated in a report presented at a labor-management meeting in December. “We wanted to give management another opportunity to recognize the crisis.”

NYSNA nurses, ED doctors, and other staff spoke out at the February Community Board 11 meeting on the severity of the crisis and urged the community to action. NYC Public Advocate Letitia James, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and State Senator Jeffrey Klein heard from the workers that the hospital’s approach of hiring a few nurses at a time is not working.

Vicious cycle

“We are in a vicious cycle. The hospital spends a lot of money and time hiring and training new nurses. By the time they’re up to speed, they either leave the ED or leave Jacobi. In the rare instance that they do stay, a more senior RN has had enough and left. The bottom line is that staffing has not improved, it’s gotten worse,” said Marie Galin, RN. Ms. Galin is confident that if the ED were staffed properly, new nurses would stay because veterans like herself would have time make them feel like part of a team.

She added, “The worst part is that nurses have no time to help each other. Every nurse is so worried about her own license that we have no time to lend a hand. I’ve never experienced that before.”

Mr. Petty likened Jacobi’s understaffing to a sick patient, “When we treat dehydrated patients, we don’t give them water sip by sip, we give them a massive infusion. That’s what we need at Jacobi. We need a massive infusion of nurses.”

With a new Director of Nursing and the involvement and support of elected officials and the community, the nurses are hopeful that they will be able to unite around the common goal of providing the very best public healthcare to all New Yorkers.

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