I would first like to acknowledge the great amount of support received by myself and the newly elected NYSNA Board of Directors last month during the election. I am honored to be your President and strongly believe that each and everyone of us sitting on this new Board will devote ourselves to our members— whether upstate, downstate, or in New Jersey. At every unit — private or public, outpatient clinics, Mayorals, schools, or homecare — NYSNA’s Board of Directors represents you and your fellow nurses.
Many thanks to the Board we succeeded, one composed of outstanding members whose commitment and determination set an example for us all. They handed off a principled and broad agenda, with ambitions that include protecting our licenses, professional standards, and seeking equity of healthcare resources for all New Yorkers.
My foremost role as your President is to advocate for you and our profession. Your thoughts and concerns will not only be heard, but action will be taken with all of your thoughts in mind. I fully recognize the conflicts within our ranks and pledge to pursue, with all my experience gathered over 31 years as a NYSNA nurse, the healing necessary to reinforce our unity and build trust. When we work together we are an immensely powerful force for patients and their communities.
As I take on the responsibilities of the presidency, I am proud that the landmark staffing bill for which we fought for years has been signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. What a victory! The law represents years of outreach by us and fellow caregivers to communities whose collective voices were heard. The staffing law is a giant step forward towards our goal of equity in healthcare — “Every patient is a VIP!”
The opportunity the staffing law represents is enormous because where we have staffing ratios they become New York State law! Elsewhere, we need to tighten our grip by organizing within our ranks to create a record of staffing: Staffing Captain reports, Protests of Assignment, local staffing campaigns, forthcoming staffing committees and interregional meetings. The structure is there. Member involvement pushes us over the finish line.
After all, you went to work during a pandemic, knowing what that meant, which was exposure to the virus. We lost fellow nurses and many of you infected by the virus continue to experience symptoms months later. Strong health and safety protocols continue to be a priority for nurses as the pandemic grinds on, increasingly infectious corona virus variants emerge, and infection rates rise in some communities. We must do everything possible to protect the frontline nurses and other caregivers. Your care is a top priority for NYSNA.
Equality is top priority
The staffing law calls upon us to work with other unions. That opportunity — to create and enhance solidarity with other unions — now has a legal mandate. Again, member involvement is the key.
One issue pertaining to equality for our members is yet to be resolved and I pledge my total support in this arena: hazard pay for all our nurses. Our public nurses, whose extraordinary efforts helped save tens of thousands of lives in New York, have not received hazard pay. Some of you at private hospitals likewise have not received hazard pay. This is an affront to you and to NYSNA.
Healthcare is a human right
NYSNA leadership’s attention to the social determinants of health remains a top priority. Racism is a public health crisis and we join with other unions, public health experts, community advocates, and all others in bringing an end to this unbridled hatred.
We will continue our Rescue and Relief missions, dedicated to healthcare outreach in places far and near. Our frontlines have no boundaries.
Our fundamental belief that healthcare is a human right shall not be deterred. Thank you, again,for putting your trust in my hands and those of the newly elected NYSNA Board of Directors.
Our unity makes us strong!