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NYSNA-Represented Nurses Rally Outside The Westchester Medical Center, ‘Demand Safe Staffing & A Fair Contract’

Published Thursday, September 8, 2022
by NYSNA News
NYSNA-Represented Nurses Rally Outside The Westchester Medical Center, ‘Demand Safe Staffing & A Fair Contract’

(VALHALLA, NEW YORK) -  More than 100 New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA)-represented Nurses employed at the Westchester Medical Center rallied in front of the hospital to call attention to unsafe working conditions at the facility, which they say is a result of understaffing.  The Nurses (Pictured Above/Photo Courtesy of NYSNA’s Facebook Page) also highlighted the need for a fair contract with fair and competitive wages, a real plan to recruit and retain Nurses and improved patient care through safe staffing. 

NYSNA Representatives said Westchester Medical Center nurses “are the backbone of public health in Westchester County and beyond - providing lifesaving care to a six-county area.”

However, Westchester Medical Center is not retaining Front Line Nurses, they said, as the hospital is losing more than 20 Nurses a month and has failed to hire enough Nurses to fill vacant positions to meet patients’ needs

Registered Nurse David Long, who also serves as President of NYSNA’s Local Bargaining Unit, said: “Our Nurses are challenged daily to deliver safe patient care with short staffing.  Our Medical-Surgical Nurses are taking assignments of as many as seven or eight patients with little or no support Staff.  Unfortunately, many Nurses are leaving because they are being overworked. We’re losing more than twenty Nurses monthly due to resignations and early retirements.  We currently have nearly one hundred vacant nursing positions.” 

Nurses also sounded the alarm on poor staffing conditions and about the Westchester Medical Center Administration’s refusal to put the Safe Staffing Ratios they negotiated as part of New York State’s Hospital Staffing Law into the Nurses’ Union contract.

The rally came after nearly a year of negotiations between NYSNA Nurses and hospital management at the Westchester Medical Center. 

Registered Nurse Mary Lynn Boyts, who serves as NYSNA’s Local Bargaining Unit Second Vice President said: “They refuse to put negotiated and agreed upon Safe Nurse-to-Patient Ratios in our contract because it will hold them accountable.  Now they are refusing to negotiate a modest salary increase that will help recruit and retain Nurses needed to be compliant with New York’s Staffing Laws.” 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Westchester Medical Center Nurses working on the frontlines have been understaffed and under-resourced, the Union said.

And, they have not received COVID-19 bonus pay unlike Health Care Workers at many other hospitals, Union Officials said.

However, since the COVID-19 Pandemic began, Westchester Medical Center Health Network CEO Michael Israel increased his total compensation by 33.5%.

In 2021, Israel made $3.4 million total compensation, making the CEO of this public hospital among one of the highest paid hospital executives in New York State. 

Nurses at Westchester Medical Center also join the more than 30,000 NYSNA Members who will be bargaining contracts for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

NYSNA Nurses are bargaining for improved patient care, including safer staffing levels and better pay and working conditions to recruit and retain Nurses. 

NYSNA is New York’s largest Union and Professional Association for RNs, representing more than 42,000 members across the State.

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