Historic win in Capital Region

(L) Ratification at Bellevue Woman’s Center; (R) Ellis Medicine nurses at Labor Day celebration.

Multi-year agreements were won in September for nurses at Ellis Medicine and Bellevue Woman’s Center, as NYSNA members continue signing contracts that improve staffing, provide enhanced enforcement and achieve wage and benefit gains. There are 600 nurses at Ellis Medicine in Schenectady, making it the third largest healthcare system in the Albany area. Bellevue Woman’s employs just short of 120 RNs and is located in Niskayuna.

Safe patient care is top priority

“What a win for our patients! The new contract is going to make people’s lives healthier and better,” said Catherine Lucas, a registered nurse at Ellis Medicine for 37 years. “Every nurse at Ellis Medicine and Bellevue Woman’s Center cares deeply about giving our patients safe and quality care. This contract ensures that when you come to the hospital, Capital Region patients get the gold-star care that they deserve.”

“The RNs of Ellis Medicine and Bellevue Woman’s Hospital have achieved signifcant contractual gains,” said Patricia Donahue who works the post-anesthesia care unit at Ellis. “Safe patient care is a basic human right and all nurses should have a say in guidelines and unit-based staffing committees are provided in the new contract. All hospitals in the Capital Region should strive to meet these standards to ensure the highest quality patient care.”

Strong contract gains

Contracts for both facilities include the creation of a nursing resource team (NRT) that provides a mechanism for immediate relief for RNs when unsafe staffing is encountered during their shifts.

At Ellis, 15 full-time equivalents (FTEs) are being added in a joint NYSNA-management allocation process. Float pools are being established to provide additional staffing relief.

The Ellis Medicine contract also provides stronger union security, an important goal of members in the bargaining unit.

At Bellevue Woman’s, known as the premiere birthing center in the Capital Region, enforceable staffing guidelines and unit-based staffing committees are provided in the new contract.

Immediate wage increases of 15-18 percent, 24-27 percent over the four-year deals, were won at the two hospitals. These wages make RNs at Ellis Medicine and Bellevue Woman’s among the highest paid nurses in the region.

“This is a very good contract and will set a new wage standard for nurses in the Capital Region,” said Vickie Decker, RN, of Bellevue Woman’s. “In addition to wage increases for all members, this contract also contains major healthcare gains. This contract is something to be very proud of.”

Ellis Medicine’s Interim Chief Nursing Office Suellyn Ellerbe told the Albany Business Review on September 9 that the new contract will help with recruitment and retention of staff.

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