Safe staffing demands

Nurses rallied at Methodist Hospital on December 15 calling for safe staffing. They cited the more than 3,000 POAs filed over the past two years. Brooklyn Eagle photo by Mary Frost.

More than 18,000 members at 14 hospitals throughout New York City are working towards fair contracts in negotiations at this time. What unites these efforts is the most critical issue to patients and nurses alike: Safe Staffing.

The demand for Safe Staffing resonates throughout our facilities, from Emergency Departments, Adult and PEDS, to Med/Surg Units, to ORs, to Psych Units, and elsewhere. In some facilities safe staffing ratios are exceeded by a factor of two: where 4 patients per RN is deemed safe, 8 are assigned. Some are worse. Few of us are immune to short staffing and a management push to assign more and more patients per nurse.

Staffing ratios a must

This pushes the limit, putting patients in jeopardy and squeezing our members. Safe working conditions with appropriate ratios are essentially to providing the quality patient care that is our calling.
That is what unites us in this campaign.

At New York Presbyterian’s Washington Heights facility in Manhattan, RNs came together on the evening of December 18 to call for Safe Staffing. It was a very spirited gathering, with voices united for safe patient care.

In the last 22 months, 17,000 RN signatures were affixed to POAs at Presbyterian, an enormous outpouring of protest, in most instances linked directly to staffing shortfalls. POA data is gathered by NYSNA staff and entered into a data base, analyzed and available for review and dissemination. It is also shared with management and there is regular follow up to review the POAs.

Staffing issues are heard

POAs were on the agenda at a December 10 hearing convened by State Senator Adriano Espaillat at a community center across from the hospital. The five-hour hearing was an examination of conditions in the several emergency rooms of the hospital, where overcrowding and short-staffing are common. NYSNA nurses testified as to their experiences. Anthony Ciampa, RN and NYSNA Board Member, shared these remarks before Senator Espaillat:

“Patient loads are double, or even triple or more, the standards set in peer-reviewed nursing studies. Imagine what conditions exist for a nurse to write up a Protest of Assignment? Are these patient loads the norm? Well, the Protests here were signed in almost every case by more than four nurses. That’s more than one thousand one hundred ER nurse signatures. Not just one nurse citing a problem assignment due to staffing shortages, but on average four nurses signing the Protest. Four nurses saying: stop, hold it, this could be a serious problem.

“That should resonate with management, to whom the Protests were made and delivered; to patients observing their nurses stretched to the limit, and beyond; to families, counting on care for their loved ones.”

An informational picket was held at Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn on December 15 (photo above). NY Methodist is one of the 14 in bargaining in New York City. Bargaining for the 14 continues apace, with informational actions, and many members in attendance at bargaining sessions.

NYSNA is making its demands heard, loud and clear.

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