More than 10,000 nurses from Montefiore Medical Center, Mount Sinai Hospital and New York Presbyterian are set to strike April 2 after months of negotiation failed to yield safer nurse-to-patient ratios, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) has announced.
NYSNA-affiliated nurses at the three hospitals engaged in nearly 30 negotiating sessions with management before voting by a 97 percent margin in favor of strike, according to a statement published on the group’s Facebook page. The unrest stems from a staffing crisis that’s forcing nurses to take on an excess of patients, likely compromising hospitals’ quality of care.
“Hospital administrators are used to having all the power over staffing,” the NYSNA wrote on its website. “Putting safe minimum staffing levels into law will take some of that power out of their hands. Most managers will eventually come to see how safe staffing saves lives, but many are spreading myths now to try to stop us—the nurses of New York State—from taking power into our own hands and protecting our patients with safe staffing ratios.”
The number of patients assigned to a nurse directly impacts quality, the group said—a 2002 study found hospitals that routinely staffed with 1:8 nurse-to-patient ratios experienced five additional deaths per 1,000 patients than those that staffed with 1:4 nurse-to-patient ratios. The odds of patient death increases by 7 percent for each additional patient a nurse adds to their roster.
NYSNA said its members have been unable to agree on “a single item” with their management staffs, “but it is management’s continued refusal to even engage in a conversation about minimum nurse-to-patient ratios that has led to this moment."
The advocacy group insisted they remain open to negotiations “every day and night” while other New York hospitals vote to join the strike.
“(You know) what gets me? People who think we just want more money,” one nurse wrote in response to the NYSNA’s Facebook announcement. “There’s no amount of money we can be paid to be more comfortable with having 6-7 med-surg patients or 3-4 ICU patients. We just want safer nurse-to-patient ratios.”