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“We Can Do Better” - Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital Nurses ‘Picket For More Staffing & Services’

Published Friday, September 24, 2021
by Fernando Alba/Press-Republican
“We Can Do Better” - Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital Nurses ‘Picket For More Staffing & Services’

(PLATTSBURGH, NEW YORK) - Members of the University of Vermont Healthcare Network Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital’s (CVPH) Nurses’ Union again demonstrated outside the hospital earlier this week, calling for more staffing and better patient care.

Wednesday’s (September 22nd) picket by CVPH’s Beekman Street entrance was joined by about 200 Health Care Workers, Members from other Local Unions and local residents.

“We can do better for our patients, for our community.  Now that COVID is on the rise again, I think we need their support,” said Amy LaValley, a Registered Nurse (RN) at CVPH who picketed. “That’s basically why I’m out here - to get the community to stand behind us because we’re not getting any respect from the management.”

The picket was the New York State Nurses Association’s (NYSNA) third demonstration of the year at CVPH, where Members called for a new contract that would include limits on the number of patients that nurses see, the hiring of more Employees and the return of services lost for local patients after the hospital’s restructuring last Fall.

"In all areas of the hospital, our Staff is stretched to the breaking point,” Victoria Davis-Courson, an RN at CVPH, said. “Quality patient care suffers when there are not enough Nurses and Front Line Health Care Professionals to care for patients.  We are coming together to demand Safe Staffing and a fair contract that protects patient care."

Davis-Courson said Nurses at CVPH have been pushing for the inclusion of Safe Staffing language - which would require patient-nurse ratios that would give Nurses more time to spend with patients - in their contracts for about 10 years.

Safe Staffing’s inclusion has been a sticking point in the latest rounds of negotiations for a new contract, which Nurses at CVPH have been without since last September.

“It’s been volatile at times, but we’re working through it,” Davis-Courson said of the negotiations between the Union and the hospital’s administration. “The biggest thing we want is the Safe Staffing Language in our contract and there is a lot of resistance to that.  We don’t really know why.”

Facing staffing shortages - which now number more than 200 across the hospital, according to NYSNA - from CVPH’s restructure last year, which was further compounded by the COVID-19 Pandemic, Davis-Courson believes Safe Staffing in Nurses’ contracts would better retain Employees - but until the shortages are addressed, she said patients will continue to likely face longer wait times and lesser care.

“We try our best.  There are times when we have to go off of a unit to get a patient or to get supplies a patient needs.  We’re having to take more and more time away from our patient care, our bedside care to do these other things,” Davis-Courson said. “There’s just not enough Nurses to go around.  Sometimes when we go in, we hope that we have our four-patient assignment on that surge, but sometimes we go in, and they’re asking people to take more patients,”.

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