Emergency Room nurses at Montefiore were dealing with common problems that nurses run into in our state—understaffing, overcrowding, faulty equipment, redundant documentation, and a management that was not responding to nurses’ overwhelming concerns about how this affected patient care.
In March 2013, Montefiore ED nurses banded together with their NYSNA reps, and using collective POAs that at times included all nurses working in a unit, demanded, en masse, major changes to improve working conditions. More than 50 POAs were collected with over 300 signatures. Meanwhile, NYSNA researchers analyzed data and prepared a report on how these practices violated patient care standards and employee contracts. Nurses also spoke to the local Community Board, presented stacks of the collective POAs as evidence of their complaints. The Board, many of whom had been patients themselves, stood behind the nurses.
Presented with overwhelming protest by nurses and a supportive Community Board, management took steps to address nurses’ concerns. After meeting with NYSNA and examining nurses’ proposals for improvement, overtime restrictions were removed, meals were available in staff lounges, new nurses were hired, a temporary overflow unit opened up, and clinic hours were expanded.