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 will also take place at Mt. Sinai and Montefiore throughout the week
New York, NY — Today, nurses and allies held a speak-out at NY-Presbyterian 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 saying 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.
Melissa Balogh, RN, said: “Hospitals like to cry broke and say that’s why our staffing is low, but that’s not true. New York Presbyterian had enough money to pay the CEO and VP multi-million-dollar salaries and bonuses during the COVID-19 pandemic, yet nurses are frequently understaffed and have to run floor to floor looking for supplies to perform patient care. It’s time we demand a better healthcare system. It’s time we take care of the nurses.”
Aretha Morgan, RN, who works at NY-Presbyterian's pediatric ER, but was assigned to the adult ER during the height of the pandemic, said: “Dead bodies – that’s what we saw every day, all day, during the height of the pandemic. People were dying by themselves, with no family member to hold their hand. I would go in and hold someone’s hand while they died and then move onto the next patient, and the next. Then I would come home and cry. We didn’t have enough nurses, or enough cleaning supplies or PPE. We were all on our own and we felt abandoned by hospital management. Now, we’re calling on management to come to the table and right the wrongs they’ve committed. We need safe staffing ratios and we need respect after all we’ve done and all we’ve been through.”
Beth Loudin, RN, pediatric specialty nurse, said: “Our patients deserve experienced nurses. With the retention and recruitment of nurses we’d be able to do with a fair contract, the community at large would come out with better care. The more experience I have as a nurse, the better care I take of a baby and the better I am able to help families.”
Deborah Ceraulo, RN, a pediatric nurse at NY-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital said, “As my colleagues and I fight for a fair contract, I am so concerned about our healthcare benefits. I care for a daughter with a chronic illness, who relies on 24 costly medications daily and multiple doctor visits a week to keep her alive. Nurses won’t be able to stay healthy or keep our families healthy without good benefits, and NY-Presbyterian won’t be able to retain the experienced nurses.”
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.
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.