New York hospital, workers spar over staffing

Workers at Niagara Falls (N.Y.) Memorial Medical Center participated in informational picketing Sept. 30 over concerns related to staffing and personal protective equipment, according to the Niagara Gazette.

Participating workers are members of 1199SEIU, United Healthcare Workers East, which represents about 23,000 healthcare workers in western, central and northern New York state.  

The union said workers report critically low staffing levels at the hospital and are demanding appropriate levels to ensure quality patient care. 

"We've been dealing with short-staffing for at least the last two (years)," nurse Jennifer Smith told the Gazette. "We are at our wits end."

Union organizers said they also have filed charges with state officials alleging inadequate staffing levels and inappropriate floating of staff. They say workers are being reassigned to areas they are not properly trained in due to short-staffing.

Memorial spokesperson Patrick Bradley addressed the concerns in a statement shared with Becker's Hospital Review.

He said the pandemic has worsened a nursing shortage nationally, statewide and regionally.

"We have accelerated our recruiting efforts, held job fairs specifically for nurses and streamlined our hiring process," he said. 

Mr. Bradley said Memorial has hired 37 nurses since June 1, and several new hires are undergoing nursing orientation training, with assistance from several travel nurses in house.

The hospital's human resources department has 20 nurses going through the hiring process, including several behavioral health candidates, and four nurses who are waiting for placement, he said. Memorial also is recruiting nursing supervisors and clinical coordinators.

"We are fortunate to have such a talented and dedicated nursing staff and we're always willing to work together with the union on ways to better serve and care for our patients," said Mr. Bradley. 


More articles on human resources:
Pennsylvania health system should have turned over parts of sale agreement to union, court rules
Dignity Health, Sutter Health hospital workers seek more protection from COVID-19
Alameda Health System workers set 5-day strike

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