Nursing strike continues in New York City

Members of the New York State Nurses Association entered the third day of a strike Jan. 11 at two New York City hospitals: Mount Sinai Medical Center on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.

The union represents 7,000 nurses at the two hospitals.

Union members said nurses at the hospitals will continue their strike from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. Jan. 11 and every day until tentative contracts can be reached. 

The primary issue in negotiations is ensuring enough nurses at the bedside for safe patient care, according to the NYSNA. 

"Neither Mount Sinai nor Montefiore have agreed to nurses' proposals to enforce safe staffing levels, even though nurses have been sounding the alarm about the crisis of understaffing that harms patient care," the union said in a news release. "At Montefiore, one nurse in the emergency department often has to care for up to 20 patients; One NICU nurse at Mount Sinai will often be responsible for three or four very sick babies at once."

The strike comes amid negotiations for new contracts at the hospitals. Union members initially delivered 10-day strike notices Dec. 30 at multiple New York City hospitals, including NewYork-Presbyterian, Montefiore, Mount Sinai Hospital, Mount Sinai Morningside and West, Maimonides Medical Center, BronxCare, Richmond University Medical Center and Flushing Hospital Medical Center. As of Jan. 11, six of those hospitals have approved previously reached tentative contracts. Montefiore and Mount Sinai nurses had not reached tentative deals by the Jan. 9 strike deadline.  

Mount Sinai and Montefiore say they have been negotiating in good faith at the bargaining table to reach a fair contract amid workforce shortages and other challenges.

"Over 70 percent of nurses at Mount Sinai Morningside and Mount Sinai West voted to ratify a labor contract that puts nurses and patients first," Mount Sinai said in a statement shared with Becker's Jan. 11. "The overwhelming support for this contract gives us hope that a resolution is close at the Mount Sinai Hospital and the union will bargain in good faith to end this strike."

Montefiore pointed to its proposals to address staffing concerns, which include increases in registered nurse and nurse practitioner staff; average staffing ratios in emergency departments, based on patient acuity levels; and a committment to "make all reasonable efforts to eliminate all hallway patient placements," with the exception of "circumstances where the institution is mandated to do so" by state officials.

Hospitals have implemented contingency plans to prepare for the strike, including bringing in temporary staff. Diverting ambulances, postponing elective surgeries and discharging patients as appropriate have also been part of contingency efforts. 

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