NYC nurses authorize hospital strike if negotiations fail

NEW YORK — Nurses from three major New York hospitals could go on strike in two weeks, members of the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) announced Monday at a rally outside Mount Sinai Hospital on the Upper East Side.

Nurses on March 18, 2019, announced a strike date for the following month. (PIX11)

Members of NYSNA said Monday that the strike will commence on Tuesday, April 2, if hospital management does not address their concerns

Should the strike happen, it could affect more than 10,000 nurses across the Montefiore Medical Center, New York—Presybyterian Hospital and Mount Sinai hospital systems.

"Let me be perfectly clear: we do not want to go on strike, but we are here. We are strong. And we are saying we will do whatever we have to do to protect our patients," Judy Sheridan Gonzalez, NYSNA president said.

While the organization said the nurses don't want to strike, they are doing so to advocate for better care for patients in the long run.

Sasha Morgan was one of several hundred nurses protesting outside Mount Sinai Monday.

"I was the only nurse on the unit, on the epilepsy unit. You are supposed to have two," Morgan said. "And I had to call for help. There was no one to help."

Morgan is a pediatric nurse at Montefiore Medical Center.

"That was a bit scary but you have to what you have to do," Morgan said. "You have save the patients' lives, right?"

The nurses said because their hospitals refuse to hire enough bedside caregivers, they are forced to care for up to 19 patients at the same time.

"When that happens, our patients suffer," a press release stated.

Earlier in March, registered nurses from 13 facilities across the city voted to authorize the strike amid reports of "horrendous conditions that patients are dealing with inside hospitals."

In 2018, 20,000 nurses from Montefiore , New York—Presybyterian and Mount Sinai signed protests of assignment for unsafe conditions, including a six-hour wait time for pediatric patients in the emergency department, unsafe staffing in the neonatal intensive care unit and patients stacked on stretchers in hallways for days waiting for an available room.

NYSNA is New York's largest union for registered nurses, representing over 42,000 nurses in the state.

The New York City Hospital Alliance, which represents these hospitals, said in a statement Monday, "Our first priority is providing patients uninterrupted health care." Also noting, "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."

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson joined the nurses at their rally Monday. "What we need, what New York City needs, what NYSNA needs and what the patients who use these hospitals need, is more nurses," Johnson said.

The New York City Council did pass a resolution last year that called on state government to pass legislation mandating nurse staffing levels. That has not happened yet.

The Greater New York Hospital Association has condemned the possible strike, calling it "extremely irresponsible."

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