New York, N.Y.— More than a dozen elected officials joined New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) nurses in solidarity on the City Hall steps on October 6, 2022, to speak out for a fair contract for the nearly 9,000 NYC Health+Hospitals nurses and fair funding for the nation’s largest public health system.
NYC’s public sector nurses have been essential in saving lives throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but now the NYC Health+Hospitals system is facing crisis-level understaffing and underfunding.
New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) First Vice President Judith Cutchin, DNP, RN, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the deep inequalities in NYC’s public and private sector hospital systems, which led to a disproportionate number of people of color and low-income patients dying of COVID-19. We need full and fair funding for our public healthcare system as a matter of health equity and racial justice and to make the entire city more prepared to deal with the ongoing pandemic and future healthcare emergencies.”
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, Sen. Gustavo Rivera, Sen. Brian Kavanaugh, and more than a dozen City Council members spoke out in support of city nurses and for fair funding for the city’s public health system at this October 6th rally.
NYSNA Director at Large, Sonia Lawrence, RN, of Health+Hospitals/Lincon, said: “At H+H we care for all New Yorkers—but we need to do it safely—with quality. This is hard because we’re always doing more with less. It is widely accepted that safe staffing saves lives, yet H+H nurses are forced daily to undertake patient ratios that are clinically unsafe and are in direct violation of our staffing laws. So many of our experienced nurses are tired and giving up. H+H needs to do more to retain experienced nurses rooted in the community. All we want is to be fairly compensated and fairly treated for the important work we do. It’s time to respect public sector nurses and our patients!”
The pay difference between nurses in public sector and private sector hospitals is large—more than $14,000/year. Public sector nurses are calling for pay equity in order to retain nurses.
NYC Health+Hospitals nurses care for 1.4 million New Yorkers each year, regardless of ability to pay, including 475,000 uninsured patients. As private sector hospitals downsize and eliminate less profitable services like mental healthcare, labor and delivery, and emergency/trauma care, New York’s public hospitals are there to provide these essential services.
“Our frontline nurses protect the health of our communities by providing quality care for all New Yorkers,” said City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. “They deserve a fair contract, safe staffing levels, and appropriate resources to continue serving our communities with essential care. I stand in solidarity with the New York State Nurses Association in their call for respect, dignity, and support through a fair contract.”