Saturday, February 4, 2023

total meltdown? How the NYC Nurses’ Strike Could Affect You and Your Health Care

NEW YORK — A potential nurses’ strike at several New York City hospitals could begin as early as three days from now, as early as Monday, January 9.

“This could be a huge public health disaster,” he previously told NBC New York Ken Raske of the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA). He described the mood among hospital administrators as “extremely apprehensive”, and a strike would send already overburdened hospitals into full crisis mode.

The New York State Nurses Association, which has more than 10,000 members, has threatened strike action at five hospitals whose contracts expire on December 31.

“Our ER is backed up, tripledemic is raging,” Raske said. “Even if one hospital goes on strike, it can affect the whole system.”

News of the possible strike comes at a time when the city is grappling with what’s being called a tridemic: simultaneous, severe spikes in infections of COVID, the flu and the respiratory condition RSV. In an effort to keep case numbers down and ease pressure on hospitals, the city has already issued a notice (not a mandate) suggesting that people return to wearing masks indoors.

But what would the token strike mean for you and your health care? This is what we know so far.

In which hospitals can nurses go on strike?

First, it’s important to note that not all New York hospitals will have nurses on strike. A week ago, there were eight private hospitals that were staring at the possibility of a nursing strike. But as of Friday morning, three of those hospitals have reached tentative agreements with their nursing staff and will avoid a strike if the unions vote to ratify the agreements.

Here are five hospitals where a tentative settlement has yet to be reached (as of Friday morning), meaning a strike is still on the table:

  • Montefiore
  • Mount Sinai Hospital
  • Mount Sinai Morningside and West
  • bronxcare
  • Flushing Hospital and Medical Center

Three hospitals have reached tentative agreements that still need to be voted on by nurses’ union members: New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Maimonides, Hospital Y Richmond University Medical Center. If approved, they will avoid a hospital strike.

It is also important to note that just because there will be a strike in one hospital, it does not necessarily mean that there will be a strike in other hospitals as well. In principle, a strike by nurses in one hospital will have no effect on the decisions of nurses in another hospital. Each hospital is negotiating with its own nurses individually, so there could be no strike, a single strike, or up to five strikes, depending on how the talks go.

How will the strike affect healthcare?

For those worried about what the strike could mean for their health care, the effects are already happening, or will be soon.

Mount Sinai Health System is beginning to divert “most” ambulances from its four facilities and transfer babies from its neonatal intensive care units to other hospital systems, according to a memo to staff from the hospital’s leadership, a copy of which is available on our sister site. the series was received by NBC 4.

Here’s a summary of the changes coming to the memo as soon as Friday:

  • divert ambulance from Hospital Mount Sinai, Mount Sinai West, Mount Sinai Morningside why Mount Sinai Beth Israel,
  • Cancel elective surgeries and schedule emergency surgeries only at the Main and Morningside facilities.
  • Transfer of some patients. “Also, this unfortunately means transferring NICU babies outside of the Mount Sinai Health System to ensure they receive much needed care.”
  • Discharge “as many patients as appropriate” and replace services: hospital care at the Main and West facilities, and emergency and child psychiatry at the Morningside campus.

one source is working Mount Sinai said parents of more than 50 infants in NICUs had not yet been notified that their young children would need to be transferred to another facility, although no babies had been transferred as of Thursday night ( In fact, sources said that one had been shifted).

is the spokesman for Mount Sinai They plan to shift the patients on Friday if no agreement is reached, he said. For the other hospitals on the list, it was not immediately clear what contingency plans are already in place or will be soon.

Patients and visitors can expect to see one thing: a lot of traveling and business nurses.

NBC New York It has been learned that other hospitals that have not made deals with their nursing staff have begun shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars in non-refundable down payments to keep temporary nurses on standby, a cost that is too large to bear. Even if they don’t do it. There are no strikes.

Knowledge She added that it is against the interest of nurses in the union to have hospitals resort to this more expensive option because it forces hospitals to spend money that could have gone to the nurses. However, once the strike notice is issued, the influence of the nurses also increases.

One nurse involved in the conversation estimated the cost of commercial nurses to be approximately $10,000 per week per travel nurse. While the skills of vocational nurses are similar to those of union nurses, patients who have spent a lot of time with or are familiar with specific nurses may have to get used to seeing new faces if a strike is to occur and it will last for some time.

How likely is it that there will be a strike (or strikes)?

For now, it’s hard to say for sure. It all depends on what the respective hospitals offer nurses, and if they decide to accept the offers.

NBC New York Received a memo from the leaders of Mount Sinai Hospital, Mount Sinai Morningside and Mount Sinai West that makes it clear the ongoing talks have resolved most issues, but not all, and the clock is ticking.

The nurses have said that some progress has been made at some of the bargaining tables where hospitals are negotiating with their respective employees, but still not enough progress to stop the strike. The nurses union said there is at least one sign of progress: All the hospitals on the list have agreed not to cut health benefits.

The New York State Nurses Association president said, “The New York State Nurses Association will rescind the strike notice when we reach a tentative agreement that respects the nurses and our patients at Mount Sinai. Not before.” , Nancy Hagans. “There are some proposals and advances, but we are not there yet.”

According to a source familiar with the Mount Sinai talks, the hospital had previously offered the nurses a deal that included a 14 percent raise over four years, a deal that the nurses rejected and which was an offer extended by NY-Presbyterian over the weekend. was much less than

That tentative agreement, if accepted, would see NY-Presbyterian nurses grow by 18 percent over the next three years, with additional incentives to retain experienced nurses. There was also a promise to address the shortage of old employees, the biggest complaint of the union.

While it remains to be seen whether NY-Presbyterian nurses will accept the offer, Montefiore Hospital said Wednesday that its hospital nursing representatives had turned down a deal that mirrors the one offered by NY-Presbyterian . A spokeswoman for the hospital said the nurses were offered “an 18 percent pay raise over three years, fully funded lifelong health care and a significant increase in RNs in emergency departments,” among other benefits.

Looking at the financial point of view, this development can become a problem for other hospitals. According to a Montefiore spokesman, NY-Presbyterian is expected to post a profit of $200 million in 2022, while Montefiore will post a loss of $200 million. Such a deal was deemed potentially unacceptable to the other hospitals on the list, but now NY-Presbyterian nurses may think twice about ratifying the deal they tentatively agreed to (voting began Tuesday night and ended Saturday).

Why are the nurses threatening to go on strike? What do they hope to get?

“Nurses feel neglected and disrespected by their bosses,” Hagans said. “We hold dying patients’ hands, we set up final FaceTime calls so dying patients can say goodbye to their loved ones.”

Matt Allen, a labor nurse with the Bargaining Committee at Mount Sinai, told NBC New York Monday that Mount Sinai Hospitals has more than 700 vacancies for nursing positions, something they are seriously looking to address.

Allen said, “Staffing is the biggest issue we’re fighting right now.” “We’re hoping we’re going to get something this week before our strike is still on the table.”

The union says members are upset about the staffing ratio at local hospitals, contract proposals they feel will limit their health care benefits (while giving executives big bonuses), and Mayor Eric Adams’ recent move to forcibly hospitalize psychiatric patients. was admitted in All of those elements have left employees overworked and fatigued.

Allen said, “We can’t clean the patient in time, we can’t give the medicine in time, there is no brake.” “The burnout was real, so we quit and went to work for a travel agency that was going to pay us more.”

The median salary for nurses in New York is $93,000 and $98,000 in New York City, the nurses union and GNYHA confirmed. It’s not clear how much more the union raises expectations for its members in terms of compensation, but it is clear that some hospitals have turned up the numbers that haven’t lived up to their standards.

Hagans said, “If Montefiore can pay its executives that much, they can hardly cry when it comes to negotiating contracts with frontline nurses.”

Can the government intervene and force the parties to reach an agreement?

In short, no. These are private hospitals that negotiate with the unions, and there is little the government can do to officially help in order to avoid a strike.

However, this does not mean that nothing can be done.

Gov. Cathy Hochul’s office previously said they were “monitoring the situation.” The sources said both Hochul and New York Mayor Eric Adams receive regular daily updates on the talks. While neither Hochul nor Adams has a formal role in the talks, some have wondered whether they will buckle under pressure or try to broker a deal.

Aides to Governor Hochul confirmed that she has been very busy for several days, not directly at the negotiating table, but speaking regularly to both sides and pushing both sides to agree to yes. The state has also begun a review of hospital strike contingency plans.

“We are working with all parties to help reach a fair solution to keep New Yorkers and health care workers safe,” Hochul spokeswoman Avi Small told an interviewer Thursday. NBC New York.

Nation World News Desk
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