Dozens of off-duty nurses are expected to take part in “Safe Staffing Day of Action” on Sunday at noon outside Staten Island University Hospital in Ocean Breeze.
The nurses, who are members of the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), are calling on lawmakers in Albany to pass the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act. NYSNA nurses are fighting to increase staffing in units they say are understaffed.
“Ask any nurse, and they will tell stories of having to care for 10, 11, 12 patients at a time, and for some nurses that number is even higher,” said Maddalena Spero, recovery room registered nurse, NYSNA.
“Nurses don’t have the ability to hold a patient’s hand, comfort a family member, or take a few minute break. The Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act guarantees professional RN [registered nurse] staffing levels at all New York hospitals — one standard of quality care for our patients. Not only does it produce better outcomes for patients, but national studies actually prove that safe staffing is financially helpful to hospitals,” she added.
According to NYSNA the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act will do the following:
- Make sure there are enough nurses at the bedside of patients.
- Set a cap on the number of patients a nurse is responsible for at any given time.
- Establish safe nurse-to-patient ratios in all of New York Hospitals.
- Require hospitals to staff nurses in the specific unit for which they are trained.
- Require hospitals to be more transparent.
PROTESTS OF ASSIGNMENT
NYSNA said its nurses fill out “Protests of Assignment” (POA) when care issues arise and share the POAs with hospital management.
At Staten Island University Hospital alone, 1,815 POAs have been filed over the last three years that include complaints from over 8,600 nurses, according to NYSNA.
“In 2017, at hospitals where our nurses provide care, tens of thousands of nurses signed POAs and the vast majority of them pertained to understaffing. From 2015 to 2017, in hospitals serviced by NYSNA nurses, over 69,000 POAs were submitted with signatures from over 280,000 nurses. More than 80 percent of those were because of safe staffing issues,” said NYSNA in a written statement to the Advance.
NYSNA represents more than 1,100 nurses employed at Staten Island University Hospital, Ocean Breeze. Nurses at the Price’s Bay site are represented by a different union.
Staten Island University Hospital issued the following statement to the Advance about Sunday’s rally: “While NYSNA’s social media posts, advertisements and demonstrations like the one planned for tomorrow at Staten Island University Hospital continue to claim that safe staffing is at the root of its contract dispute, it’s now clear that the union is motivated purely by a desire to further supplement the generous retirement health benefits provided to its 1,200 members at Staten Island University Hospital’s north site.”
The hospital said in the statement that all of Northwell Health’s investments in nurse hiring are based on “legitimate staffing needs, not mandated quotas like those advocated by NYSNA.”
“The leadership of Staten Island University Hospital has always been committed to patient safety – a commitment that will never waver. In fact, as the needs of our patients have changed over the years, we have added staff and continually review the hospital’s staffing needs, taking input from our registered nurses, medical staff and other employees, ” said the hospital.
NYSNA nurses at Staten Island University Hospital also recently voted to strike over contract disagreements.
In reference to that dispute, the hospital said: “During labor negotiations last week, Staten Island University Hospital made a very generous ‘last, best and final offer’ that addresses the concerns of nurses, including three percent annual wage increases over the next three years, with the first increase retroactive to March 1, 2018.”