Rigid Staffing #s Not Way to Improve Care- Hospital Execs say
By David Greene
BRONX, NEW YORK, APRIL 23- Members of the New York City Hospital Alliance (NYCHA), currently negotiating a new contact between its five-member hospitals and roughly half of the 18,000 nurses currently working without a contract, has issued a statement after several thousand nurses held a rally at the State Capital in Albany.
The statement read in part, "The NYC Hospital Alliance
continues to negotiate in good faith with NYSNA (New York State Nurses Association) to reach a fair contract that honors our nurses by protecting their strong health and pension benefits and offering a wage increase that keeps them among the best paid nurses in the country."
The statement continued, "NYSNA's insistence on rigid staffing ratios is not the way to improve patient care. Nor is there a shortage of nurses currently as the hospitals that make up the Alliance (who) have collectively hired 1,000 additional nurses since the last contract was signed."
In what could be a sticking point in any future negotiation, the NYCHA statement added, "In a changing healthcare landscape that requires flexibility and team-based approach, staffing levels and assignments must remain the responsibility of hospital management."
The statement concluded, "We are pleased that NYSNA has agreed to discuss the remaining issues during a joint mediation, and we look forward to reaching an agreement that recognizes the important contributions of all healthcare professionals and allows these hospitals to continue providing the highest quality care to all of their patients."
The NYCHA is made up of a select group of negotiators from Mount Sinai, St. Luke's, Roosevelt, Montefiore and New York-Presbyterian Hospital and is currently in the process of negotiating a new contract between those five hospital's and the nurses union.
The NYCHA boasts that it's five hospitals handle nearly one million emergency room visits and nearly six million outpatient visits each year.
Addressing the under-staffing concerns raised by the demonstrating nurses, Risa Heller, a spokeswoman for Montefiore Hospital, stated, "In the last three years, Montefiore has added nearly 500 nurses, half of whom were hired to increase nurse staffing to meet patients' complex needs."
Heller maintains,"NYSNA is disparaging city hospitals to try and gain advantage in ongoing contract negotiations. We always have and always will work cooperatively with NYSNA to improve patient care, which is not just our top priority-- it is our only priority."
"Fixed staffing ratios," Heller continued, "Which NYSNA is requesting, are an outdated idea, have not been proven to improve health, and would actually undermine the team-based care model that works best for our patients."
Heller added, "We look forward to reaching an agreement that recognizes the important contributions of all of our health care professionals and allow us to continue providing the very best care for our patients."
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