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Registered Nurses Protest Staffing Levels At Montefiore New Rochelle

Westchester registered nurses and caregivers picket with thousands of NYC’s registered nurses April 16.
Westchester registered nurses and caregivers picket with thousands of NYC’s registered nurses April 16. Photo Credit: Contributed

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Westchester registered nurses joined with thousands of registered nurses from New York City hospitals recently in a daylong downstate regional informational picket to push for increased staffing levels.

Hundreds of members of the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) gathered on April 16 at Montefiore Medical Center’s New Rochelle and Mount Vernon hospitals holding signs and handing out literature to underscore the staffing crisis in their units.

They called upon the community to contact hospital executives and demand that safe staffing be a priority at their facilities.

"We're uniting for our patients and we're asking management to prioritize safe RN and caregiver staffing levels that have proven to save lives. There are times when we're caring for nine or 10 patients, even more, and, it’s not possible to give each patient the attention that they need," said Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, a registered nurse at Montefiore Medical Center and president of NYSNA. "We went into this profession to be patient advocates. That’s what this info picket is all about.”

The action comes as nurses protest what they call unsafe registered nurse staffing levels in many units, as well as excessive patient assignments for nurses and caregivers that threaten to compromise the quality and safety of patient care. 

Registered nurses have focused on fighting staffing shortages while the health care industry is rapidly consolidating.

“We need the Westchester community to stand with us and call Montefiore CEO Steven Sayfer and tell him to make safe staffing a priority,” said Tracy McCook, a registered nurse at Montefiore Medical Center’s Mount Vernon Hospital. “Westchester residents deserve better. Implementing safer staffing levels in our hospitals are necessary to guarantee quality patient care for our communities.”

In 2014, nurses at 14 hospitals signed more than 25,000 complaints tied to staffing shortages. Formal registered staffing complaints were highest in medical/surgery units, emergency departments and psychiatric units.

Staffing levels at the hospitals fall far short of those set in professional peer-reviewed medical studies on safe registered nurse staffing. The nurses say this research clearly demonstrates that when nurses take on too many patients, the risk of illness and health complications increases dramatically.

"It's gotten worse lately," said Kathy Santoiemma, a registered nurse who works at Montefiore Medical Center’s New Rochelle Hospital. "The hospital practice of understaffing is almost a daily problem for us and it must be addressed."

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