Southside nurses win major staffing victory

NYSNA nurses at Southside Hospital are looking forward to a safer patient care environment following the hospital’s February 11 announcement that it will add 11 full-time RN positions.

“This would not have happened without nurses coming together,” said John Young, an RN in the hospital’s Emergency Department. “The past months in the ED have been very busy both in terms of volume and acuity. A high census in the hospital results in holds of up to 36 hours.”

Southside’s Executive Committee arranged an off-site meeting where Emergency Department nurses aired concerns about unsafe staffing and assignments. NYSNA RNs quickly filed a Step 2 class action grievance. Southside’s Chief Nursing Officer listened as nurse after nurse presented compelling evidence. At the end of the meeting, she agreed to work with an Emergency Department committee to address the issues.

Unity gets results

A short time later, nurses came together over similar conditions on their Med/Surg Unit, and again, NYSNA members filed a class action Step 2 grievance. Nurses met with the CNO, noting that staffing was particularly bad on weekends and evenings. The nurses also started a texting campaign with the director of the Unit and CNO, sending them staffing data and escalating the notices every time they worked under protest due to a shortage of nurses or nurses aides.

The new nurses will help with ED holds and the Med/Surg and Telemetry Units, freeing float pool nurses to cover sick calls. “We know that staffing up will take time, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” Mr. Young was happy to report. “Solidarity paid off.”

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