Montefiore Creates Scheduling Chaos, Units Closures, Understaffing on First Day Back from Nurses’ Strike
Nurses Who Report for Morning Shift are Turned Away
New Rochellle, NY - Today, nurses ended their two-day Unfair Labor Practice strike at 7 a.m., planning to return to the hospital to take care of patients.
Nurses, with the support of elected and community leaders, walked back into the hospital at the main entrance to start their scheduled shifts at 7 a.m. Several nurses who were on the schedule to work were called the night before and told not to come in, locking them out. Assembly Member-elect Chris Burdick and County Legislator Terry Clements were there to offer solidarity.
“This lockout is coming at a terrible time during the middle of a pandemic. The patients deserve the care they need. The nurses are fighting for safe staffing. It’s time to come together and think about the patients and the community. My message to hospital management is to ask that they do the right thing: increase staffing, provide the appropriate PPE and appropriate tools to care for their patients, and allow the nurses to return” said Assembly Member-Elect Chris Burdick.
NYSNA leader at New Rochelle, Kathy Santoiemma, RN, said: “We hope that Montefiore allows all of the nurses to return immediately. If they can shut down a hospital within one day and arrange complicated transport out of the hospital for critically ill patients, they should be able to reopen quickly and return full services to the New Rochelle community.”
One of the Medical-Surgical units that handles COVID patients remains closed. COVID patients are being mixed in with non-COVID patients in the hospital, a practice that NYSNA filed an OSHA complaint about less than a week ago.
The emergency department typically starts with four nurses in the morning, but today, was only staffed with three nurses. Ambulatory surgery and recovery room nurses were locked out. A nurse who was scheduled to begin work in the PACU, a unit that cares for post-operative patients, today was called last night and told not to come in.
“There is a full day of scheduled procedures in the OR, but without full nurse staffing in the peri-operative units,” explained David Nightingale, RN. “I’m very concerned that the units that are opened do not have enough staff. I heard from some nurses working today that they already filed Protest of Assignment forms, because they are being asked to care for an unsafe number of patients. It feels like retaliation.”
Last week, NYSNA 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 show consistent staffing problems related to insufficient numbers of nurses throughout all hospital departments, but particularly in the Medical/Surgical Units.
Montefiore's top management, despite receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid, has refused in negotiations to spend anything on additional nurse staffing to improve the crisis at New Rochelle hospital. Nurses have been negotiating a new contract with Montefiore New Rochelle for two years. No further negotiation dates have been set. NYSNA estimates that dozens of nurses could be locked out but is still gathering reports from nurses.
“Our community deserves a fully functional hospital,” said Lisa Gehrung, RN. “We fought hard to bring back the Maternal-Child Health units to Montefiore New Rochelle, and at a time when hospitals should be expanding capacity, we hope Monte will reopen the entire hospital and bring back all the nurses.”
“The chaos that Montefiore is causing at New Rochelle is not in the best interest of patient care,” concluded Santoiemma. “All the nurses want is to provide quality care to our community. We want Montefiore to come back to the table to settle a fair contract with safe staffing, so we are ready for another COVID surge.”
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.