Understaffing in New York's hospitals and nursing homes puts patient safety at risk—that's why NYSNA nurses speak out for safe staffing. Whether advocating for the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act in the New York State Legislature, or fighting and winning staffing improvements in our contracts, or enforcing safe nurse-to-patient ratios on our units, nurses will not stop until we win safe staffing on every unit, in every hospital in the state. Below are just a few of our most recent local safe staffing victories:
January 2021: NYP Nurses Break Hiring Freeze
Since the pandemic began, NYP has left over 200 RN positions vacant as part of a hiring freeze that began in August 2020. Many RN positions have remained frozen by NY-P management in crucial ICU, med/surg, stepdown, and emergency department units, leaving them inadequately staffed as the second surge began. NYSNA nurses took action to demand NYP backfill the positions and follow all grids. Within hours of the unit-by-unit petitions and protests of assignment (POAs) being faxed to nursing management, HR sent official notice to NYSNA that NYP is no longer requiring additional Finance Department approval to unfreeze RN positions. This means local nursing management can and should begin posting vacancies in your units immediately. This is a major first step toward improving staffing! Nurses will continue to keep up the pressure on management to improve staffing in the short term, and won't stop until all units are adequately staffed and the contract is respected.
October 2020: Brooklyn Hospital Nurses Beat Back Layoffs and Got Vacant Positions Filled
At the Brooklyn Hospital Center, the Administration announced plans to lay off 44 nurses, citing declining census over the summer months. Member immediately mobilized and got ready to go public, and in less than 72 hours, management rescinded layoff notices and agreed to work with the union to fill several vacant positions.
October 2020: Westchester Med Nurses Win Against Unsafe Staffing Practices
Nurses at Westchester Medical Center's Children's Hospital just won 10 new positions! This summer, as COVID cases declined and the pediatric census returned, it was clear that unsafe staffing was jeopardizing the lives of the community's children. WMC's administration dismissed the nurses’ concerns, while expanding pediatric services and aggressively promoting the new Children’s Hospital brand. Nurses organized, planning a sophisticated campaign that included hundreds of Protests of Assignment, a petition, and letters to the facility's Board of Directors and the donors who funded the new Children’s Hospital—John and Brenda Fareri. On August 5th, hundreds of nurses were joined by local elected officials and community members speaking out on the chronic unsafe staffing at the hospital. Solidarity paid off. Now Westchester Med nurses are pressing the hospital to address staffing shortages in other specialties too. When we fight we win!
August 2020: Catskill Nurses Win New Float Pool Positions in Midst of COVID Surge
Catskill Medical Center had occasional outbreaks of COVID during the summer, as NYC residents came up for camps and vacations. A strong staffing victory from the summer was the posting of 6 new float pool nurses to help cover the critical care and med/surg units.
August 2020: Bellevue Woman’s Center Win a New Contract with Safe Staffing Ratios
Another historical contract was achieved and ratified on August 14, 2020. Over 40 improvements to the CBA were achieved, including actual staffing ratios/guidelines.
July 2020: ECMC Nurses Demand Safe Staffing Despite the COVID-19 Pandemic
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses at ECMC/Terrace View Long Term Care in Buffalo were not fully staffed. There were dozens of vacant positions, including positions that ECMC/TVLTC nurses won in their last contract that had not yet been filled. Inadequate staffing hindered the response to COVID-19 and left more nurses sick and burned out by the end of the surge. The vacancies may have insulated nurses from the sweeping austerity and staffing cuts at ECMC, but raised concerns about quality care in Med Surg and especially the ED. In the ER, nurses called an emergency meeting with Administration and Department Heads to voice their concerns and demand more nurses be hired. As a result, 14 new nurses were hired in the ER, and another 6 agency nurses were added. NYSNA nurses and managers instituted a staff retention team to support, mentor, and retain new nurses working under stressful pandemic conditions.
July 2020: We saved jobs and reopened services at Montefiore Mount Vernon Hospital
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Montefiore announced its intention to follow through with the closure of Mount Vernon Hospital, in the center of a medically-underserved majority African American community. The telemetry and ICU units were shut down, and layoffs announced. NYSNA nurses fought back and forced Montefiore to rescind the lay-offs of 16 ICU nurses, and reopen telemetry. We are still working to reopen the ICU and Save and Transform Mount Vernon Hospital long-term.
April 2020: NewYork Presbyterian Pushed Back on Unit Mergers, Won New Positions
As part of NYP’s strategy to increase revenue post COVID surge they have decided to merge areas of the hospital that have been separate units for years. The Ambulatory Surgery Unit (ASU) and Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) were merged into a new Peri Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). We pushed to bring these changes to the newly created allocation committee as a programmatic change and won 3 additional positions for the newly merged unit to improve staffing. The nurses from both units also fought for more thorough and effective training for the ASU nurses, who will now be expected to care for more acute patients.
December 2019: Nearly 9,000 Public Sector Nurses in NYC Win Safe Staffing
From the first rally of their contract campaign in February, to the all-night bargaining session that delivered a tentative agreement on a new contract, NYSNA nurses at NYC Health + Hospitals/Mayorals were a strong and consistent voice for healthcare justice. Through their unity, solidarity and political engagement, H+H nurses were able to secure a groundbreaking contract that delivered on the most important issues identified by the majority of members. For the first time, enforceable safe staffing ratios are in the contract. A substantial salary increase and other incentives were won to help attract and retain the nurses necessary to deliver the quality care that patients deserve. When we fight, we win!
September 2019: ECMC Nurses Win New Contract with Improved Staffing
ECMC nurses won new, groundbreaking safe staffing language in their new contract, as well as a commitment of 45 new positions up to $4.5 million to begin hiring new nurses. They launched a Safe Staffing Allocation Committee to determine the units with the greatest need for new hires and to establish a minimum number of RNs per unit and shift.
September 2019: Big Staffing Wins for Brooklyn Nurses
Between June and September, Brooklyn nurses at Interfaith Medical Center, Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, and Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center fought hard and won contracts with safe staffing ratios. Now, every private sector facility that bargained in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island in 2018/2019 has ratios, or is actively building ratios, and/or will be building ratios over the life of their agreements. This is an outcome amidst immense economic pressure from what are largely safety net, underfunded, and under-resourced employers. The nurses in Brooklyn demanded that every patient be treated with the same safe ratios—regardless of ability to pay. These contracts demonstrate the extraordinary commitment of NYSNA’s safety net facility nurses to safe staffing.