Hospitals are facing an acute shortage of nurses

Hospitals are facing an acute shortage of nurses


A nurses’ strike that disrupted patient care at two of New York’s largest hospitals for three days appears to be over.

Both hospitals, Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and Mount Sinai Hospital in upper Manhattan, announced early Thursday that they had reached preliminary agreements with the New York State Nurses Association. The union did not immediately confirm the statements.

Both hospitals postponed non-urgent surgeries, diverted ambulances to other medical centers, hired temporary staff and appointed administrators with nursing experience to work on the wards to cope with the 7,100 nurse walkout.

The union said it was forced to take the drastic step of strike action because of severe staff shortages, which have left nurses caring for too many patients.

Montefiore and Mount Sinai were the latest in a group of hospitals to have their care contracts expire at the same time. The union initially warned it would strike all of them at the same time, but other hospitals reached agreements as Monday’s strike deadline approached. They all include increases of 7%, 6% and 5% respectively over the next three years.

Montefiore said his deal calls for similar raises.

Nurses on the pickets emphasized that staffing is a more important issue than pay. New York nurses hailed as heroes in spring 2020 as city epicenter of death from COVID-19. Now they say they are being burned by poor staffing levels, which have been a problem for years.

“Remember, even before (the pandemic), we’re already understaffed,” said Mount Sinai nurse Nagi Pamphil. She said nurses on her unit now have to care for twice as many patients as they can safely handle.

“It’s impossible,” she said.

Montefiore said earlier Thursday that he had agreed to add 170 more nurses.

The Mount Sinai administration said the union’s focus on nurse and patient numbers “ignores the progress we’ve made in attracting and hiring new nurses despite the global health worker shortage affecting hospitals across the country.”

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