Nurses from three major New York City systems are threatening to strike starting April 2 if an agreement on addressing working conditions and staffing levels isn't reached before then.
Nurses represented by the New York State Nursing Association have said they would like to avoid the strike, but will go on with it if an accord isn't struck between the systems and the nurses, a report from PIX 11 in New York said.
If the strike were to happen, it would affect more than 10,000 nurses from Montefiore Medical Center, New York--Presbyterian Hospital and Mount Sinai hospital systems.
Strikes also mean major additional costs to medical systems, which must hire caregivers to replace those on staff. That kind of temporary help is costly, as it often includes transportation and lodging for the temporary workers. Those costs mount up easily and could adversely affect hospital budgets depending on how long the strike persists.
The threat of a strike has been ongoing now for at least a month after a day of protests back in mid-February over reports that staffing levels at the hospitals were insufficient and that patient care was suffering.
According to a statement from the NYSNA, 20,000 nurses signed 3,800 official protests of assignment from January to December 2018. Those reports were filed at New York Presbyterian, Mount Sinai St. Luke's and West, and Montefiore Medical Center's Moses and Weiler campuses. The complaints ranged from hours-long wait times to see providers in a pediatric ED, overcrowded triage areas, abusive patient behavior, NICU overcapacity and understaffed, a lack of CNAs and high acuity workload with patients requiring checks and care, overcrowded EDs, lack of air conditioning and subpar ventilation and inability to comply with infection control.
ON THE RECORD
"It is clear that something must be done, including the implementation of safe staffing ratios to ensure every patient gets the care they need and deserve. Safe staffing is one of the issues that is currently being discussed as part of contract negotiations. One note: it is a fact: safe staffing measures do not adversely affect hospital budgets. To the contrary, in many cases patients receive better care, and have a lower recidivism rate which saves money," NYSNA said in a previous statement.
A statement from a New York City Hospital Alliance spokesman said, "Our first priority is providing patients uninterrupted health care. We respect our NYSNA nurses and will continue to work to reach an agreement that is fair, reasonable, and responsible for all parties.
"Despite our offer of significant wage increases, pension and health benefit funding, and an explicit offer to explore increased staffing, Union leadership has called on their nurses to walk away from patients' bedsides so they can advance their political agenda of mandating rigid, inflexible staffing ratios. Such ratios would take healthcare backward and impede our nation-leading hospitals' ability to provide the best patient care.
"Rigid staffing ratios would lower patient care and drastically increase costs for not-for-profit hospitals-resulting in layoffs of other important members of patient care teams. We cannot agree to a staffing approach that would override the professional judgment of nurses and healthcare experts."
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