Nyack Hospital Nurses Protest Unsafe Staffing Levels

Nurses protesting outside Nyack Hospital.
Nurses protesting outside Nyack Hospital.

More than 70 on and off duty nurses at Nyack Hospital picketed outside the facility to draw attention to what they claim are unsafe patient/staff ratios and contract talks stalled over medical insurance coverage.

“Staffing is an abysmal situation at this facility,” said Mike Hertz of the New York State Nurses Association during the Monday midday protest.

Judy Hecht, chairperson of the nurses grievance committee, said it is difficult to recruit and retain nurses at the hospital because of the problems with staffing. Hecht, who has worked at Nyack Hospital since 1974, said nurses on average are required to care for seven, eight or nine patients, which leads to safety issues for patients and nurses. 

“But the goal is to have four to five patients per nurse which would be a much safer ratio,” she said, noting while the lower ratio is in effect in California the higher ratio is in place at other New York hospitals.

About 400 nurses work at the hospital. Hecht said they have received stacks of complaints about the assignments.

Local Bargaining Unit Chairperson Annamarie Perkins used a megaphone to speak to the protestors who walked along busy North Highland Ave, waving signs and pennants at passing motorists.

 “We need safe staffing ratios and access to quality care,” she said. “The RNs at Nyack Hospital (have) put a safe staffing proposal on the table since the beginning of the negotiating sessions. The hospital refuses to address our concerns. All they’re interested in is changing our health plan. Their health plan proposal diminishes access to care and increase our costs dramatically.”

Nyack Hospital issued a release in response to the nurses’ grievances. It stated that patient care is the hospital’s top priority and staff levels are based on patient census and medical conditions and are “well within industry standards.”

It went on to say.

“We believe this picketing is not about patient care, but rather about a dispute over a revised benefits plan.  Nyack Hospital employees have access to a comprehensive benefits plan.  As a result of reduced reimbursements, the Hospital cannot continue to offer the same subsidy to employees.  However, the benefits plan being offered remains comparable to and even richer than what other hospitals in the region offer.  Nyack Hospital is bargaining in good faith and wants to reach agreement on a contract right away.”

Ann O’Meara of Nanuet said the nurses have been working without a contract since December 2012. Pat Shinners, who has worked at the hospital for 23 years, said patients many of them elderly are coming in sicker, because they are having problems with their medical insurance and postponing getting treatment.

“When they get here they’re usually very sick. Without safe staffing patients do not get the best care,” said the Bardonia resident.

Joanne Hodges of Pearl River has worked at Nyack Hospital for 27 years, 18 of them as a nurse. She said there is a strong sense of community and the nurses want to keep that.  Hodges was born at the hospital as were her children and her father has surgery scheduled there for Friday.



Nyack 51 December 02, 2013 at 03:54 PM
I'll tell you what, being a patient at Nyack Hospital is scary. Not sure if it's poor staffing or poor leadership. What ever it is you have to take care of the nurses. I chuckle when I see press releases about awards from outside agencies . Yeah right. No one even washes their hands coming in and out of rooms. Please
Rob T December 02, 2013 at 04:17 PM
What are staffing levels at now with all of them out protesting ?
Mike Hirsch December 02, 2013 at 05:14 PM
Maybe the hospitals, Walmart and everything else should just be taken over by the government. Then everyone will get paid well, have great healthcare coverage, good pensions, no understaffing issues, etc.
Dorice Arden Madronero December 03, 2013 at 08:26 AM
The facility is filthy. Patient rooms that i have visited, as well waiting room space was disgusting. Housekeeping is the first line of defense and that is abyssmal. Nursing staff was minimal adding to the problem is a lax visitation policy that permits young children to roam hallways disturbing patients and hindering safety for all. Perhaps hospital administration should limit staff's use on cell phones, as focused attention was diverted to texting.
Watchdog December 03, 2013 at 08:34 AM
Wait until OBAMACARE kicks in if you think it is bad now.
Watchdog December 03, 2013 at 09:13 AM
Robert Guttman December 03, 2013 at 10:03 AM
I was born at Nyack Hospital, and nearly died there, having contracted a disease in the maternity ward. From what I have seen, it hasn't improved since then. I don't know of any other hospital where the patients' bedrooms offer a charming view of the cemetery across the street. Of course, if you think Nyack Hospital is bad, you ought to see what hospital conditions are like in Puerto Rico. You wouldn't think it was part of the United States at all. I nearly died of pneumonia down there, which the hospital staff proved incapable of diagnosing correctly. It wasn't until I got out of there and came back to Nyack that I was properly diagnosed and treated. The Puerto Rican doctor who treated me said to me, "you realize you are in a Third-World Hospital", and he was right.
Warren G Harding December 03, 2013 at 11:26 AM
Profits before patients and staff. It's the amerikan way right Mike Hirsch?
Mike Hirsch December 03, 2013 at 11:49 AM
Our ancestors came to this new country because of the unlimited opportunities here. People are still coming here for the same reason. Our country is getting older and has changed. Unions came about to protect the rights of the working man, which they did. Unions starting declining when they got too powerful and started hurting the economy. The GM bankruptcy and Ronald Reagan's firing of the Air Traffic Controllers, for example. Today, the public service unions are a problem for all of our governments who are trying to balance their budgets. Maybe those areas of our economy where the working man is still downtrodden, such as the nurses and hospital staff, WalMart employees, etc will begin to form stronger unions, which seem to be needed. The right balance between management and labor is a constant struggle.
Scott Northridge December 06, 2013 at 11:54 PM
Sorry to hear all the negative comments about this hospital. I, as well as family members have received excellent care at this hospital. Several elderly family members had life threatening conditions and are alive because of the expertise of the medical staff. I am sorry to hear though that some doctors are sending patients to a facility that they have a financial interest in. Albeit, they are saying the care and infection likelihood is the reason they recommend the facility. I think it puts more money in the doctor's individual pockets.


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