Nurses picket New York hospitals over staffing levels

New York State Nurses Association held pickets and rallies outside several hospitals in New York City Thursday to protest against unsafe staffing.

The NYSNA is in negotiations with the NYC Hospital Alliance, a multi-employer bargaining group that includes hospitals like Mount Sinai Hospital, Mount Sinai St. Luke's, Mount Sinai Roosevelt, Montefiore Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

According to a NYC Hospital Alliance statement, NYSNA is seeking to impose rigid staffing ratios across hospitals. "NYSNA's insistence on rigid staffing ratios is not the way to improve patient care," the statement reads. "Nor is there a shortage of nurses currently as the hospitals that make up the alliance have collectively hired 1,000 additional nurses since the last contract was signed." The Alliance believes hospital staffing levels and assignments should be the responsibility of hospital management.

A release from the union notes that there were more than 25,000 formal RN complaints to management in downstate hospitals for shortages affecting patient care in 2014.

The NYC Hospital Alliance maintains that "these complaints are a tiny fraction of all staffing assignments, underscoring the fact that ratios are not needed as these hospitals are already widely regarded as some of the most distinguished and safest institutions in the entire country."

Many nurses and other caregivers joined the pickets Thursday. NYSNA shared some images via Twitter:

The two parties plan to meet to discuss the issues during a joint mediation, according to the NYC Hospital Alliance.

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