May 13, 2015
By Marc Bussanich
Bronx, NY—The New York State Nurses Association is currently in talks with 14 private hospitals throughout the metropolitan area and the union’s position that more nurses are needed to care for patients while the hospitals insist they’re not is proving to be a stickler in contract talks.
Last week, NYSNA nurses held a press conference at Montefiore Weiler Hospital to announce that seven nurses were escorted from the premises for speaking up at work about unsafe staffing levels. We interviewed Karine Raymond, NYSNA’s director at large at Montefiore, who told us that Montefiore’s director of nursing told her she couldn’t speak to her colleagues during National Nurses Week about staffing levels.
We then had the opportunity to speak with NYSNA’s president, Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez about how contract talks are proceding with the 14 private hospitals.
“Our sticking point has to do with protecting patients, whether it’s by having the appropriate education for nurses, the appropriate staffing for our patients and being able to ensure that health and safety of our patients is paramount; that’s really the crux of a lot of our negotiations and definitely the sticking point. The hospitals are saying they’ll never say yes to it,” said Sheridan-Gonzalez.
While the Affordable Care Act has expanded healthcare for millions of Americans who didn’t have coverage before the act became law in 2010, nonetheless there are efforts to implement a single-payer healthcare system in New York. Assemblyman Richard Gottfried is the sponsor of a bill that would create a statewide health program, providing access to health insurance for all New Yorkers. NYSNA is one of many labor unions supporting the legislation.
“We are very strong proponents of single-payer healthcare, a system that exists in every industrialized country except the United States where healthcare costs are much less and care is much better. All the indices—mortality, morbidity—are better in these countries. The U.S. is shamefully below it, but yet we spend twice as much as many of these other countries on healthcare. So something is really wrong with our system,” Sheridan-Gonzalez said.