26,219 understaffing complaints filed by nurses in last 2 years, New York union says

Nurses in New York City's municipal agencies and healthcare facilities filed 26,219 complaints about understaffing in 2019 and 2020, according to the union that represents them

The New York State Nurses Association said the complaints come from nurses in city agencies and at NYC Health + Hospitals system.

"Both before and during the pandemic, understaffing at our public hospitals has been severe and puts patients in jeopardy. This condition in our hospitals continues today, and our nurses must care for far too many patients. It is unsafe. The communities we serve pay a price — in lives," said Judith Cutchin,  RN, a union board member and president of its NYC H+H/Mayoral Executive Council, in a Feb. 24 news release.

The union, which represents more than 42,000 members statewide, including more than 8,500 nurses across the NYC Health + Hospitals system and city agencies, released the data amid its support for the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act. The legislation is under consideration by state lawmakers and would set nurse-to-patient ratios in healthcare facilities. 

NYC Health + Hospitals shared a statement with Becker's on Feb. 26 defending its staffing.

"NYC Health + Hospitals' priorities include its patients' safety and ensuring staff have the resources and support they need to fulfill that patient promise. The system made a commitment to improve nurse staffing prior to 2019, which led the system to reach a historic agreement with NYSNA that standardized nurse staffing based on nurse-to-patient ratios," the health system said. "During the extraordinary challenges faced by the COVID-19 pandemic, the public health system took remarkable steps to enhance and support our nurse workforce by sourcing thousands of nurses to help meet patient demands. We will continue to provide a healthy and safe environment for our nurses and patients."

Health system staffing complaints are individually evaluated and addressed if appropriate by leadership, the health system said.


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