NYC nurses are fighting for fair contracts that protect patient care as hospitals fail to provide good jobs to caregivers who put their lives on the line during the COVID-19 pandemic
Actions also taking place at NY Presbytarian and Montefiore throughout the week
New York, NY - Today, nurses and allies held a speak-out at Mt. Sinai in Manhattan to sound the alarm on the staffing crisis that has left caregivers burnt out and at their breaking point. Two-thirds of RNs across the country say they are planning to leave the profession in the next two years and hospitals are not doing enough to keep them at the bedside – from safe staffing ratios to good healthcare benefits to competitive pay.
CLICK HERE FOR A LIVESTREAM VIDEO OF THE SPEAKOUT
Gueildye Beaubrun, RN at Mt. Sinai’s Emergency Department NYSNA member, said: “Staffing is terrible in the emergency department at Mt. Sinai, especially at night. Nurses regularly take 14 or 15 patients each. There is no miracle that can get patients good care if their nurse has this many patients. Unsafe staffing will only get worse unless we make a change. Our patients are getting sicker and sicker. We aren’t retaining nurses. We have a lot of new nurses that only make it eight months and then leave, because it’s too much. We do our best to care for people’s loved ones—but our patients need enough nurses to get the best care. That’s why we are fighting for a fair contract with safe staffing ratios.”
Lorena Vivas, RN at Mt. Sinai and NYSNA member, said: “I was 6 months removed from cancer surgery when the pandemic hit, a portion of my left lung had to be excised. But I showed up, and volunteered to work right away as a COVID ICU staff member. It was personal to me because I love this city more than anything, and I care for my coworkers. During our recent union contract negotiations, a manager had the audacity to tell us that he has not stepped in Sinai since 2019 due to the pandemic. We nurses are the real heroes, we are the brave ones who sacrificed for the greater good, who endured countless traumas while saving lives. But Mt. Sinai executives are the ones paying themselves the heroes’ salaries.”
Sandra Reid, RN at Mt. Sinai and NYSNA member, said: It is past time we had safe staffing and respect. I love my patients and my colleagues, but I don’t love the super short staffing on my unit. Our staffing is so short that when one person goes on vacation, we’re down to only 2 nurses on the floor for 20 or 21 patients. We regularly staff 3 nurses, but even a 1-to-7 nurse-to-patient ratio is unsafe for nurses and for patients. Instead of hiring more nurses or staffing safely on every shift, managers make nurses feel ostracized for calling out sick or trying to take a vacation. Nurses are burnt out and tired of being disrespected.”
John Ng, RN at Mt. Sinai NYSNA member, said: “In a little over a year and a half, 34 staff nurses have left the unit I work on. I have seen staffing conditions and nursing morale worsen. The patient acuity is higher, and the nurse to patient ratio (which SHOULD be 1 nurse to 3 patients) keeps being pushed to more unsafe levels. If I cannot, to the best of my ability, take care of my patients in the most evidence-based and efficient way possible, then there will continue to be complications of hospital care. There will continue to be pressure ulcers, falls, catheter associated urinary tract infections, and central line associated bloodstream infections. Nurses will continue to leave Mount Sinai, and, unfortunately, the profession as whole.”
New York State Nursing Association (NYSNA) members at twelve hospitals in New York City, including some of the biggest private hospitals such as Montefiore, Mt. Sinai, and NY-Presbyterian have contracts expiring on Dec. 31. Hospital executives paid themselves millions in sky-high salaries and bonuses during the pandemic at the same time they hiked hospital prices. Nurses are calling for their bosses to invest in hiring and retaining enough nurses to keep their patients safe.
“Over the last two and a half years, nurses in New York’s hospitals have gone above and beyond to care for New Yorkers in the face of an unprecedented crisis that brought our healthcare system to its knees. Despite our attempts in Albany to ensure hospitals protect patients and workers alike by requiring safe staffing ratios, many continue to drop the ball. Nurses have always been the backbone of our healthcare system but are burnt out. It’s time that hospital executives like Mount Sinai CEO, Kenneth Davis, step up to the plate to meet NYSNA’s reasonable demand for a fair contract. I’m proud to stand with NYSNA to demand safe staffing ratios, fair pay, and safe working conditions,” said Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas, member of the Assembly Health Committee.
"Nurses' working conditions are patients' conditions of care. If nurses are saddled with unsafe patient loads and unfair wages, it is New York patients and their loved ones who will bear the brunt. Enough of this for-profit healthcare system that shortchanges nurses and patients to further enrich the already wealthy. It is time we reprioritized and put people first. That's why I will always support NYSNA nurses: day in and day out, they put people first. I am proud to stand beside them in the fight for a safer, healthier New York City,” said Councilmember Tiffany Cabán (D22).
“It is unconscionable that the retention of nurses is at risk due to unfair wages and unsafe staffing levels which is causing our healthcare system to be in crisis. Hospital and healthcare center leadership must provide quality care for patients by empowering and strengthening our nursing workforce. It is vital that we support the New York State Nursing Association and advocate for frontline nurses who are integral to our healthcare networks,” said City Councilmember Julie Menin.
“I fervently believe that we must always put patients before profits; this statement is doubly true as applied to our beloved nurses, who are instrumental in ensuring that patients are cared for proactively—with dignity and compassion. Health System Bureaucrats holding up contract talks and the timely implementation of Safe Staffing are further exacerbating the nursing shortage that they created—and this is unacceptable! Nurses are the heart and soul of the healthcare system and we must treat them with the kindness, respect, remuneration and support they deserve,” said State Senator Cordell Cleare.
“Every day, nurses put patients first. They put their own safety at risk to work overtime during a pandemic for insufficient wages. Our nurses are burned out and leaving the profession at astronomical rates. To keep patients safe and protect our nurses – many of whom are women of color – hospitals must ensure appropriate staffing ratios and offer our nurses competitive pay and better benefits. I stand with the over 30,000 New York State Nursing Association members who are demanding and deserve more,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman.
"Hospital executives around the country should be alarmed that two-thirds of our nation’s registered nurses are contemplating leaving their jobs within the next two years," said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF – Manhattan), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Social Services. “After putting their lives on the line to protect others during the pandemic, our nurses are now being forced to contend with stagnant wages and untenable staffing shortages. We owe our health professionals a debt of gratitude for their sacrifice: hospitals can ease the burden for 19,000 New York City nurses and their patients by signing contracts that ensure safe staffing, increased wages, and benefits befitting their professionalism and dedication."
“Nurses are heroes - plain and simple. And after the grueling challenges of the pandemic, it is clear that we owe nurses more than applause and expressions of gratitude. Nurses deserve better working conditions, improved staffing ratios, good pay, and fair contracts. I join with NYSNA members in calling on the major private hospital systems in our state to step up and deliver for nurses. The health of our communities demands it.” said Assemblymember Danny O'Donnell.
“Nurses are the backbone of our healthcare system, and when the New York State Nurses Association comes together to sound the alarm about a staffing crisis, we must listen and respond. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses have been on the frontline, risking their lives to provide the best quality of care possible despite the extraordinary circumstances. Nearly three years into this pandemic, our healthcare professionals are exhausted, burnt out, and they are in desperate need of support. With nurses leaving the field in droves, it’s beyond time that our nurses get the fair contracts they deserve that will help recruit and retain nurses in the long run and protect patient care. I join NYSNA nurses in demanding change and calling upon hospital leadership to put the lives and well-being of hardworking nurses and the people of New York over profit," said Assemblymember Al Taylor.
“The incredible nurses at Mount Sinai have dedicated their lives to taking care of others and now we need to take care of them.” said Councilmember Erik Bottcher. “They deserve nothing less than the safe staffing levels and good faith negotiations they are demanding. I’m proud to stand with our nurses and NYSNA today and every day.”
“Our healthcare system depends on nurses. Patients depend on nurses. I fully support NYSNA nurses in their fight for fair pay, healthcare benefits, and safe working conditions at New York City’s private hospitals. Nurses put their lives on the line during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s about time that hospitals invest in nurses, who are the backbone of our healthcare system,” said Alex Bores, Democratic Nominee for Assembly.
“New York’s nurses put their lives on the line to keep us safe and healthy during COVID despite lacking fair pay, safe staffing levels, and safe working conditions. They now face low morale, recovery from traumatic work experiences during the pandemic and colleagues leaving the profession. I fully stand with them in demanding a fair contract so we can recruit the next generation of nurses and retain the experienced professionals we have now,” said Tony Simone, Democratic Nominee for Assembly.
“New York’s nurses have cared tirelessly for our families, our neighbors, and our city. It’s time we take care of them,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director of ALIGN. “We stand with NYSNA members in their fight for a fair contract, because they deserve nothing less than fair wages, safe staffing, and dignity in the workplace.”
More than 30,000 NYSNA members around New York state are currently in bargaining. NYSNA nurses and healthcare professionals at three Northwell Health facilities on Long Island will also be participating in the week of action for fair contracts.
NYSNA nurses are part of a national movement. Members voted to affiliate with National Nurses United, uniting the voices of 42,000 NYSNA RNs with the 180,000 members of NNU across the nation. This is the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that so many nurses will be bargaining for their profession and their patients. Nurses are coming together like never before because they are exhausted and demanding change from New York’s hospitals. They are uniting with labor, community, and political allies and are ready to do whatever it takes to win fair contracts that improve patient care, strengthen the nursing workforce, and uplift communities.
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, visit nysna.org.