Feds Investigate Hospital Intimidation of RNs, as Nurses Prepare to Strike December 1-2 to Protect Patient Care
New Rochelle, NY - As the number of COVID-19 patients at Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital jumped 80% last week, Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital denied frontline nurses of the New York State Nurses Association the resources necessary to care for infected patients. Nurses are asking management where are federal funds the hospital received for COVID care? They are demanding an accounting of the monies immediately.
Nurses will hold a two-day Unfair Labor Practice strike December 1 and 2 to demand Montefiore provide enough nurses to combat COVID-19 and care for patients.
Montefiore New Rochelle nurses lost two colleagues – a nurse and a nursing assistant — to the virus in the first attack of the pandemic.
Shalon Matthews, RN, a nurse in the Emergency Room explained the reason nurses are speaking out now: "The Administration doesn’t understand, because they weren’t there with us and patients during the first COVID wave. They didn’t see us stand in a circle holding hands and praying for our patients every morning. We don’t want that heartbreak again. We want enough nurses, enough hands on deck for the second wave. We just want to deliver safe patient care to our community. They trust and respect us to do just that."
While Montefiore says it has no money to improve staffing and other working conditions, the hospital has $27.2 million on hand, according to financial statements so far issued this year.
Nurses have tried to reach agreement on a contract with Montefiore for two years. Management tried to silence and intimidate nurses and has delayed in providing key staffing information essential to a fair contract, a charge being investigated by the National Labor Relations Board.
Today, nurses at the facility sometimes care for 10 patients each on the Med-Surg floors, where COVID-19 patients are first sent. Safe, professional standards say that nurses on this type of unit should not have more than 5 or 6 patients each.
At the hospital’s ICU, each nurse is caring for 3 patients, where standards call for 1 or 2 patients per nurse. Intubated COVID-19 patients require close monitoring around the clock. These nurses are subject to staffing allocations that are dangerous, far beyond what are considered safe under normal conditions, and even more dire with patients infected by COVID-19.
Montefiore New Rochelle has claimed that they cannot invest in safe staffing, COVID preparation, and essential services at this time. But new information from Montefiore’s financial reports and from publicly available Cares Act data reveal that Montefiore does have the resources to invest in New Rochelle Hospital—they are just spending it elsewhere.
Federal money from the CARES ACT and the Paycheck Protection Program went to the hospital’s coffers. Montefiore New Rochelle has more operating revenue in the second quarter of 2020 than it did in that quarter last year. Montefiore announced recently a $272 million expansion in White Plains, while nurses are given overwhelming COVID-19 patient loads at the New Rochelle facility.
Kathy Santioemma, RN, a veteran nurse at New Rochelle Hospital, said: “We actually have fewer nurses now than we did before the first COVID surge. Montefiore makes millions, but they are putting these profits ahead of our patients in New Rochelle. We want Montefiore to listen to the nurses and give us the resources we need to provide quality care to our community.”
Nurses are meeting with management this week in a continued effort to resolve issues and avert the strike. Under current conditions, the lives of COVID-19 patients may be at serious risk.
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.