Nurse unity on LI

NYSNA nurses from three of Long Island’s CHS hospitals united for a joint informational picket on June 8.

NYSNA members from three Catholic Health Services of Long Island hospitals (CHS) came together on June 8 outside the headquarters of the Diocese of Rockville Center to raise awareness of the staffing crisis inside their hospitals. St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center, St. Charles Hospital and St. Joseph Hospital are members of CHS, a healthcare network overseen by the Diocese.

NYSNA nurses at the three hospitals have been negotiating union contracts for several months. Safe staffing is the top concern at all three hospitals, which collectively employ about 1,200 nurses. Lorraine Incarnate, RN at St. Catherine of Siena came to Rockville Center to “let CHS know how important staffing issues are at our hospitals.”

Staffing, staffing, staffing

Nurses are worried that short staffing is putting patient care at risk at all three hospitals. Tammy Miller, RN at St. Catherine of Siena, reported, “We’re short on nurses. We’re short on ancillary staff. When we’re in the ICU and we have to take care of these critical patients and we’re concerned that patient care will suffer because we don’t have enough staff.”

“Nurses are required to fulfill not only all the duties of a nurse, but the aide, the secretary, the lab tech, the transporter, and it’s constantly taking us away from the bedside of patients who need our care,” said Ms. Incarnate.

Life and death issue

“Having a correct ratio of patients to nurses can make the difference between life and death,” Maureen Woodruff, a nurse at St. Charles, told the crowd gathered outside the Diocesan office. Ms. Incarnate added, “Our patients and our community deserve safe staffing and the quality nursing care that their disease or illness requires.”

The June 8 action at the Diocese was preceded in recent weeks by informational pickets at the individual hospitals. “We’re hopeful that CHS will finally hear us and listen to what we’ve been saying for quite some time: we need more nurses; we need more staff. We all are here to provide the best patient care we can to our patients,” Tracy Kosciuk, an RN at St. Charles Hospital, said to the press and community members in attendance.

The nurses’ unity is making a difference. In late June, St. Joseph Hospital reached a tentative agreement with its NYSNA nurses, which will be presented for ratification as this issue of NY Nurse goes to press.

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