NEW ROCHELLE NURSES BRACE FOR SECOND COVID SURGE WITHOUT ADEQUATE STAFFING OR CONTRACT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 25, 2020

Contact:  Kristi Barnes | Kristi.barnes@nysna.org | 646-853-4489

Carl Ginsburg | carl.ginsburg@nysna.org | 917-405-1060

New Report Reveals Chronic Understaffing, Patient Care Issues at New Rochelle Hospital

New Rochelle, NY— Montefiore New Rochelle nurses spoke out last week to demand safe staffing and better COVID preparations from their community hospital before another influx of COVID patients overwhelms the hospital. They also announced an Unfair Labor Practice strike on December 1 and 2 to stop Montefiore’s intimidation and silencing of their voices about patient safety.

Maria Castillo, RN, said, “Every patient deserves quality care—whether in New Rochelle or White Plains, whether during a pandemic or not. Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital needs to address understaffing before we’re back where we were in March. Our community is depending on us.”

The union representing nurses at New Rochelle released a Patient Care Chronicle, which analyzes nearly 100 Protests of Assignment (POAs) filed by NYSNA nurses at Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital in the past year. Those official reports indicate repetitive and consistent staffing problems related to insufficient numbers of nurses throughout all hospital departments, but particularly in the Medical/Surgical Units.

Melissa Ricketts, RN, who has worked for four years in the Med/Surg department, said: “. I stay over an hour late every night to finish documentation. We typically take care of 7 patients each, when we should be taking care of 5 or 6—it is unsafe and unsustainable. The reason we can’t retain nurses isn’t about money—it’s about staffing. We are certainly not prepared with enough staff for another surge of COVID.”

The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated an already difficult nursing environment at Montefiore New Rochelle. Nurses reported inadequate supplies of N95 masks, disinfection, and infection control protocols. They reported unsafe nurse-to-patient ratios and inadequate training. Two frontline caregivers died from COVID-19 during the first surge.

Examples of reports from the Patient Care Chronicle include:

  • “No N95 mask was provided for COVID positive patients”
  • “Had to reuse N95 and face shield repeatedly”
  • “I am being given a full assignment in ICU. I am a recovery room nurse. Given 3 days orientation.”
  • “Not enough help and we are operating room nurses that did not have enough experience in this kind of nursing and being given assignment like we are experienced medical nurses.”
  • “I had a patient for 2 days without isolation, today MD placed the patient on PUI COVID 19 airborne after all staff have been exposed.”

“We're all concerned about having adequate staffing and equipment for the second wave,” concluded Kathy Santioemma, RN,  Med/Surg nurse and NYSNA chair at New Rochelle. “This community suffered a lot during the first wave. That is why it is so frustrating we have spent two years negotiating with Montefiore and they have refused to invest in safe staffing. We want to give excellent care to every patient, and we can't do that without enough nurses.”

An overwhelming majority—98%—of Montefiore New Rochelle nurses voted to authorize an Unfair Labor Practice strike in order to address patient safety without intimidation or retaliation.

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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 our website at www.nysna.org. 

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