Early Monday, approximately 7,000 nurses from two New York City hospitals went on strike to voice their concerns about understaffing and salary expectations after overnight contract negotiations failed, WABC-TV reported.
As a result, the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan were forced to postpone nonemergency surgeries, divert ambulances to other medical clinics, and recruit temporary staff. Additionally, the hospitals enlisted the help of administrative staff with previous nursing experience to manage the shortage.
Contract negotiations were unsuccessful last night after the New York State Nurses Association and the hospitals could not agree regarding pay and the nurse-to-patient ratio.
“We are here to negotiate in good faith to make sure that the nurses have enough resources to care for the patients. It’s not up to the nurses. It’s up to the bosses to sit there and come up with a fair contract so our nurses could continue to care for our patients,” said NYSNA President Nancy Hagans on Sunday.
“Our bosses created the understaffing classes by failing to hire and retain enough nurses out of facilities, leaving the rest of us to work short-staffed. Hospitals haven’t done enough to keep nurses at the bedside,” Hagans added.
Nurses in the picket lines say they plan to continue the walkout until an agreement that addresses their concerns is reached.
“We were heroes only two years ago,” Mount Sinai nurse Warren Urquhart told the New York Post. “We [were] on the front lines of the city when everything came to a stop.
Mount Sinai nurse Darla Joiner told the Post, “I’m supposed to have six patients max. I have eight or nine regularly, and if I have to cover someone, [I have] 16 or 18. That’s not good!”
“Safe staffing is the most important issue to all of us here today,” Joiner added. “It seems like after COVID, nurses weren’t being hired. And the new ones that were hired had no clinical experience at all.”
A Mount Sinai Hospital spokesperson explained, “Not only do they continue to demand additional wage increases, they also continue to make demands on staffing, though they responded to our offer to hire an additional 50 nurse positions by stating they would prefer those dollars to instead be reallocated to wages.”
A spokesperson for Montefiore Medical Center told the Post it was “a sad day for New York City.”
“Despite Montefiore’s offer of a 19.1% compounded wage increase — the same offer agreed to at the wealthiest of our peer institutions — and a commitment to create over 170 new nursing positions … NYSNA’s leadership has decided to walk away from the bedsides of their patients,” said the medical center.