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NY Nurses Speak Out, Alleging Hospital Staffing Shortages

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Friday, November 19, 2021   

NEW YORK -- Members of the New York Nurses Association (NYSNA) union are sounding the alarm about what they say is a nursing shortage at hospitals in New York City and around the state.

Noemi DeJesus-Aponte, president of the New York-Presbyterian Hospital nurses bargaining unit, said at a rally this week burnout and retention issues are contributing to a staffing crisis there that began during the pandemic.

She argued patient care is being compromised due to heavy caseloads, and is a problem across New York.

"There are patients that are ignored for hours on end because a crisis walks through the door; a trauma or heart attack," DeJesus-Aponte observed. "So, what does that mean to that nurse that does one-to-one? She's going to ignore the other 15 or 16 patients that she has."

In a statement, New York-Presbyterian said it is navigating the pandemic challenges and adding nursing professionals to its care teams.

New laws take effect in January for every hospital in the state, establishing minimum staffing standards for intensive and critical care units. However, hospitals have until the following year to implement committees' suggested changes.

Nurses are demanding hospital systems take action sooner, by hiring more nurses now.

Union members contended there has been a hiring freeze at New York Presbyterian, and temporary, traveling nurses have been brought in.

Nancy Hagans, president of NYSNA, does not see the approach as a sufficient solution.

"You bring in the travelers for 90 days, and they leave," Hagans pointed out. "You're using a Band-aid to cover a bleed. When we have a bleed, we put a pressure on the bleed. What do we do? We take the patient to the O.R., we fix the problem."

In the next month, NYSNA members said they plan to rally at other hospitals in New York City and the Hudson Valley to raise awareness about the issue.

Disclosure: New York State Nurses Association contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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