New York nurses rallied Wednesday on the steps of City Hall over what they are calling a staffing crisis in city hospitals.
The noon gathering of NYSNA members came directly before a City Council oversight hearing on the state of nursing in NYC, including what many feel is a dangerously low level of nurses on staff. Nurses at the rally charged that the issue is a literal matter of life and death that puts patients at risk due to the lack of hands on deck.
“Mount Sinai Health System currently has 800 nursing vacancies, 800 vacancies, and this is not new. They’ve had over 700 nursing vacancies for over a year now and they do nothing about it,” Matt Allen, a nurse at Mount Sinai said. “All they see is the millions they are saving by allowing these vacancies to go unfilled. They don’t see the patients at all. They don’t see the bed-bound patient waiting 20 to 30 minutes for a sip of water because that nurse is taking care of 12 other patients.”
Outraged speakers stood ahead of nurses huddled amid a deluge of rainfall as they evoked the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the heroes who risked their lives caring for those infected with the deadly virus. Those champing the nurses alleged that hospital CEOs are putting profits before both the health of staff and patients.
City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams lent her voice to the cause, standing with the NYSNA. Adams spoke on the hearing, calling the meeting critical.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, frontline nurses put their health and their lives on the line to care for patients. So many of our health care staff worked without necessary protections and PPE, especially during the initial months of the pandemic, which led to workers catching the virus themselves,” Speaker Adams said. “The trauma of seeing patients suffer, often alone and isolated from their families. Takes a serious toll that it’s not easy to overcome.”
Nurses from some of the biggest area hospitals were set to testify at the hearing, divulging first-hand accounts of working conditions and major staffing issues. With hospitals refusing to hire more staff as older nurses look to retire, the NYSNA say they are endeavoring to sound the alarm on what could become a skeleton crew of nurses caring for an overwhelming number of patients.
amNewYork Metro reached out to Mount Sinai for comment and is awaiting a response.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.