A.O. Fox Hospital Nurses Speak Out on Unprecedented Nurse Vacancy Rate

Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023

Contact: Anna Sterling | press@nysna.org | 646-673-0419
Kristi Barnes | press@nysna.org | 646-853-4489

A.O. Fox Hospital Nurses Speak Out on Unprecedented Nurse Vacancy Rate

Nurses and Community Advocates Call for Patient Safety through Safe Staffing and a Fair Contract

A.O. Fox Spending Millions on Temporary Travel Nurses and Executive Pay Instead of Local Recruitment and Retention Strategies

Oneonta, N.Y.— A.O. Fox is grappling with a staffing crisis and an unprecedented nurse vacancy rate of about 50%. Chronic understaffing has led to even more departures from the hospital due to the poor working conditions for those nurses who remain, which can have a negative impact on patient care.

On Wednesday, nurses spoke out to demand a comprehensive plan to recruit and retain nurses from the hospital.  Nurses at A.O. Fox are asking for a fair contract that addresses working conditions, provides respectable wages, and most importantly, provides a solid framework for recruiting and retaining adequate nursing staff.

Diane Earl, RN, CEN, nurse at A.O. Fox for over 25 years, said: “I care deeply about our community, and it's disheartening to see the challenges we face in providing the level of care our patients deserve. We're hemorrhaging staff, and the ER is strained – patients in beds with unanswered call bells, a lack of resources, and long waits for essential services. Our community deserves better. I urge A.O. Fox to commit to dedicating the resources and staff needed to properly care for our community. We need more than band-aid solutions; we need a comprehensive, lasting plan."

Photos and videos from today's event can be found on NYSNA's Facebook page: www.facebook.com/nynurses. Media outlets have permission to use all videos and pictures from NYSNA’s social media feeds with credit to NYSNA.

To compensate for dozens of nurse vacancies, A.O Fox has pushed nurses to work longer hours and forgo paid time off. It has also filled vacancies with expensive temporary travel nurses. Most of the medical-surgical unit, as well as the night shift, are staffed by expensive temp nurses who often lack the same training and commitment to the community as staff nurses.

On a daily basis, the existing staff face a demanding workload not only from understaffing, which limits their time to provide quality patient care, but also from the time required to train new temp nurses as they cycle through the hospital.

This revolving door of temps who are not familiar with the hospital workflow can lead to delays in admissions, discharges, transfers and medications. The overreliance on temporary workers poses potential risks to patient safety, and in the current year alone, the hospital has spent an exorbitant $3.3 million on temporary travel nurses.

Mackenzie Ranc, RN, a medical surgical inpatient unit nurse, said: “I'm calling on A.O. Fox to settle a fair contract to not only recruit but also retain dedicated nurses. With stressful working conditions, denied time off, and burnout, our plea for a fair contract is not just about improving working conditions for nurses but ensuring the best care possible for our patients."

Instead of investing in the local nurses that make the hospital run, Bassett Healthcare Network, the company that owns A.O. Fox, is spending exorbitant amounts on executive pay. In 2021, 11 executives at A.O. Fox received six-figure salaries, with some experiencing double-digit increases in total compensation from the previous year while the COVID-19 pandemic was raging. The manager of nursing care received an alarming 69% increase in total compensation during the same period.

NYSNA President Nancy Hagans, RN, BSN, CCRN, said: “Oneonta and the surrounding community deserve safe quality healthcare with well-trained local nurses at the bedside, but instead A.O. Fox is understaffing the hospital and relying on temporary travel nurses. A.O. Fox must put the health and well-being of both nurses and patients first by settling a fair contract that recognizes the invaluable contributions of our nursing staff and protects patient care."

Central New York Area Labor Federation President Ann Marie Taliercio said: "The Central New York Area Labor Federation is in solidarity with NYSNA nurses in their call for safe staffing and a fair contract. We are grateful for their courage in addressing this unprecedented nurse vacancy rate, urging immediate action to prioritize local recruitment and retention over costly temporary solutions. The community's health depends on it."


The New York State Nurses Association represents more than 42,000 members in New York State. We are New York’s largest union and professional association for registered nurses. NYSNA is an affiliate of National Nurses United, AFL-CIO, the country's largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of registered nurses, with more than 225,000 members nationwide.


The New York State Nurses Association is a union of 42,000 frontline nurses united together for strength at work, our practice, safe staffing, and healthcare for all. We are New York's largest union and professional association for registered nurses.