News Briefs: October 2015

Western members gain new tool in staffing fight

Members from Western New York gathered for an introduction to a new staffing data collection system and a presentation by NYSNA President Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, RN, on September 23 in Buffalo.

Members learned that a “Safe Staffing Captain” in each NYSNA unit can text information about an unsafe ratio (e.g., 3–15) in real time, directly to NYSNA, where the data will be recorded and aggregated. The new tool aims to capitalize on the convenience of texting to bolster NYSNA’s staffing research efforts.

President Sheridan-Gonzalez spoke about NYSNA’s transforming itself into a member-driven union. “Three years ago we decided that nurses, not managers and supervisors, should be in charge of our union.”

The Western Inter-Regional meeting drew members from Erie County Medical Center, Brooks Memorial Hospital and Terrace View Long Term Care, many of them first-time attendees.

Central NY members demand greater say in future of community’s health

The Central NY Inter-Regional on October 14 brought together members from St. Elizabeth Medical Center, Oneida Healthcare Center, Onondaga County Health Department, and Hospice and Palliative Care of New Hartford who packed the room to hear important updates on the future of healthcare in their community and from NYSNA President Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, RN.

The main topic was Oneida County’s plan for a new hospital to be built with $300 million in state funding; the county is still deciding on the new facility’s location and size. Guest speaker Assembly Member Anthony Brindisi (AD 119) said that funds come with requirements of public input and consideration of patient need. “NYSNA’s message of putting patients first is important and carries a lot of weight in the state and in the Assembly,” he said.

RNs told Brindisi that Oneida County had not met the requirements. “This has built distrust,” said Trish Kuhn, St. Elizabeth RN and NYSNA board member. “We’ve only had one committee meeting on the future of the hospital in six months. This does not make for open dialogue on how best to protect patient care.”

The RNs are coordinating a town hall meeting to help get the facts out and ensure that patients and frontline caregivers are heard on this vital project.

Fall is hurricane season

Fall has always brought hurricane season to the East Coast, but climate change means extreme weather events such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy are becoming increasingly “normal”.

Hospitals should be prepared to activate their Emergency Operations Plan and readying themselves and their staffs for the potential effects of a major storm: increased patient load, power outages and communication disruptions, and infrastructure damage. If mandated to work, NYSNA members should have plans for childcare, elder care and pet care as well as alternate means of transportation.

A major storm can be a difficult time for everyone impacted. Help lessen the stress on your own family by ensuring you have adequate supplies of fresh water, non-perishable food, a week’s worth of medications, portable chargers for cell phones, a battery-operated radio, flashlights and batteries, cash, and first aid supplies on hand. Plus, if you live in a flood-prone area, know your “zone” in case of evacuation orders.

For more information on storm-preparedness, check the NYSNA website for special alerts.

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