Nurses Shine at NYS Fair

Wendy Czajak, RN, Onondaga County LBU President, addresses the press.

Putting out the word on patient advocacy, safe staffing, and single payer to community allies, NYSNA members participated in The Great New York State Fair this year. In what has become an annual tradition from August through Labor Day, NYSNA members and staff hosted an exhibit at the state’s fairgrounds outside Syracuse.

The Fair is a showcase of New York’s finest — from agriculture to education, entertainment and technology and attracts nearly a million visitors from across the state, country, and globe. Members staffing the NYSNA booth inside the fairground’s Science and Industry Building met thousands of visitors, raising issues and answering questions about nursing and healthcare. Members also spoke with current and prospective students about the rewards of a nursing career.

NYSNA’s 2015 exhibit focused on our two key legislative priorities: the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act and NY Health, legislation that will create a single-payer system for New York State. NYSNA staff and member volunteers spoke with a steady flow of Fair visitors over the course of the twelve-day event. Altogether, we collected more than 6,000 signatures in support of the safe staffing bill and 2,174 for NY Health. State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli was among those who stopped by our exhibit to congratulate members on their work on behalf of the health of New Yorkers.

Support for Central NY Nurses

The Fair also provided a forum for spotlighting the work of our members at several nearby Central New York hospitals. Many of the volunteers staffing the NYSNA booth spend their days (or nights) caring for patients at Oneida Healthcare Center, Samaritan Medical Center and St. Elizabeth Medical Center and are engaged in campaigns for contract renewals. The state fair was an opportunity for them to share information about safe staffing and quality care issues with their Syracuse-area neighbors. Their message was clearly heard: 1,329 community residents signed a petition calling on the Central New York hospitals to reach a fair deal with the nurses.

Patricia Kuhn, RN, St. Elizabeth Medical Center, and a NYSNA Board Member, encouraged more members to get involved next year. “Working the NYSNA booth at the State Fair is an amazing experience. This was my second year and every bit as exciting as the first. Many visitors returned and specifically looked for the NYSNA booth and asked for petitions to sign. The Fair is a great venue for getting the word out about important health policy issues and NYSNA’s role in fighting for our communities.”

Mark your calendar for 2016

So mark your calendar and plan to volunteer at the NYSNA booth at the 2016 Great New York State Fair, scheduled for August 25 through September 5. It’s fun, you’ll meet thousands of friendly people, and take an active part in a 150 year-old New York tradition.

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