“A ghost town” is how some are describing some hospitals.

That’s because 7,000 nurses were out on strike for a third day Wednesday, outside Mount Sinai’s main campus and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.

The New York State Nurses Association was at the bargaining table with both hospitals all day, but as of this report there is still no deal for either.

Patients say Mount Sinai and Montefiore are each a “ghost town” due to nurses strike


Since the beginning, the union’s top priority has been hiring more nurses. It argues both hospitals are dangerously understaffed. So, with all the nurses now on strike, patients say the hospitals are unrecognizable.

Thousands of nurses from Mount Sinai in East Harlem and Montefiore in the Bronx spent Wednesday on the picket lines, instead of at patients’ bedsides.

“We’re really hoping to settle tonight. We think we’re close,” said Montefiore nurse Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, who is on the NYSNA negotiating committee.

The hospitals are diverting some patients to other facilities, while also spending millions of dollars to bring in traveling nurses during the strike.

But patients’ families say it’s not enough.

“It’s a ghost town up there,” Jennifer Barriera said.

Every day, Barriera visits her sister-in-law, who is a cancer patient at Montefiore, and is now being treated by traveling nurses.

“They’re nice, beautiful people. Problem is that they’re not trained in cancer treatment. So now we have my sister-in-law, who just got a bone marrow transplant, who has to help the nurses administer her own medication,” Barriera said.

Marilyn James has been visiting her son daily in the hospital for the past month.

When asked if there are enough nurses in the hospital currently, James said, “No, there isn’t. It’s nothing like having the Montefiore nursing department. They’re just cohesive in situations like this.”

Despite a promised 19% pay raise from both hospitals, the nurses maintain they will not return to work until the bosses hire more staff.

Mount Sinai has proposed staffing grids and Montefiore offered to add 126 nurses, but there are 500 nursing vacancies at Mount Sinai and 760 at Montefiore, according to the union.

“When you have to drive from the Bronx to Westchester County to be seen by a nurse that can take care of seven patients, versus the nurses here that have to take care of 15 or 20, it’s not nice,” St. John’s nurse Devin McLaughlin said.

The union is also fighting to keep a nursing program at Montefiore for high-risk mothers. The Bronx has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country.

“We’re kind of filling that gap that’s between the health care system — when they go to the doctors’ appointments and when they’re home,” Montefiore home care nurse Tamara Garel said.

A hospital spokesman told CBS2 mothers currently enrolled will continue treatment, but the facility no longer has the grant dollars for new patients and “continue to actively seek new funding.”

“It would take $800,000 to keep the program going and Montefiore simply has said that they’re not willing to do that anymore,” home care nurse Vanessa Weldon said.

Negotiations at both hospitals continue.

When asked if she thinks it’s possible deals will be reached and the nurses will be back on the job on Thursday, Sheridan-Gonzalez said, “I hope so. If all goes well, yes. If not, we’ll be out here again.”

Mount Sinai also says it proposed staffing ratios similar to what the other eight hospitals that were able to reach agreements have.

Throughout all of this, both the hospitals and the union have been urging patients not to delay medical care if they are sick.

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