**MEDIA ADVISORY FOR DEC 8**: Locked out New Rochelle Nurses demand to return to hospital and COVID testing tent

For Immediate Release: December 8, 2020
Contact: Kristi Barnes | kristi.barnes@nysna.org | 646-853-4489
Carl Ginsburg | carl.ginsburg@nysna.org | 917-405-1060

Continued Lock Out and Scheduling Chaos at Montefiore New Rochelle Leaves Hospital Understaffed, Patients at Risk

Nurses Speak Out to Tell Montefiore: Reopen the Units and Bring Back Our Nurses to Care for This Community!

New Rochelle - When nurses at Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital ended their two-day ULP strike at 7:00 AM on Thursday, December 3, they were planning to get back to work caring for patients.

Montefiore management had a different idea. They emailed and called nurses to change their schedules, leaving some nurses locked out and unable to return to work. Although patient volume has returned throughout most of the hospital, two units remain closed—the dedicated COVID unit and a post-surgical unit. Approximately 35 nurses work on the closed units and continue to be locked out.

A Nurse Practitioner who works administering COVID diagnostic tests in the tent outside the hospital has also been told there is not enough work for her. The testing center went from seeing hundreds of patients per day—including a high of 500 people per day before the strike—to only 25 people per day once the strike ended. As COVID cases climb in New Rochelle, Montefiore is shrinking its capacity to test for COVID—a crucial element for contact tracing and mitigating the spread of the coronavirus.

Nurses working inside the hospital report understaffing on several of the open units, including in the Emergency Room.

WHAT: NYSNA Nurses Speak Out: Bring Back Our Nurses

WHO: Montefiore New Rochelle nurses, and community, labor and elected official allies, including: Assembly Member Steven Otis, Assembly Member Chris Burdick, Assembly Member Nader Sayegh, Westchester County Legislator Damon Maher, Westchester-Putnam Central Labor Body, Teamsters Local 456, and Carpenters Local 279.

WHEN: Tuesday, December 8 at NOON

WHERE: Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital, 75 Glover Johnson Pl, New Rochelle, NY 10801

“I got called to work on Friday, even though I was not scheduled to work. Our staffing was actually worse than it was when we went out on strike, and the patient acuity was so high, I was scared,” said Peggy Sinkkonen, RN, a nurse who has worked in the Emergency Room at Montefiore New Rochelle for 32 years. “There weren’t enough nurses to have a dedicated triage nurse at night to screen patients with emergent needs. Wait times were up to two hours, when they’re usually 15 minutes. COVID positive patients were waiting for hours, along with our other patients, before they could be moved up to the floors because the floors were understaffed, too. I don’t understand why Montefiore is putting people’s health at risk like this.”

“My unit on the fifth floor was converted to an all-COVID unit in the spring, and we have taken care of COVID patients ever since,” said Suja Vettuchirayil, RN. “Recently, we began seeing more COVID patients come through our doors, including younger patients like in the spring. Before the strike, our unit was full of COVID patients. I’m concerned that our unit remains closed, and COVID patients are being mixed in with vulnerable post-surgical and non-COVID patients, which increases the risk of spreading infection. The nurses trained to handle COVID are still locked out, and the negative pressure rooms are still closed. Montefiore needs to bring back our nurses, reopen our unit, and prepare to deliver care to our community!”

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The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) represents more than 42,000 members in New York State. We are New York’s largest union and professional association for registered nurses. For more information, please visit nysna.org. 

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