New York City

More than 1,000 nurses, NYC candidates, rally for public hospitals

October 18, 2013 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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More than 1,000 nurses from throughout New York State rallied near City Hall on Thursday to call for an expanded public healthcare system and for “respect” for patients and nurses from New York City’s Health and Hospitals Corporation, the city’s public hospital system.

They were joined by labor allies and elected leaders, including Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, Council Member and Public Advocate candidate Letitia James, and Manhattan Borough President and candidate for comptroller Scott Stringer.

HHC hospitals, which include Bellevue and Kings County Hospital, are New York City’s healthcare safety-net, but nurses say the net is unraveling.

“In New York City, we have the best public hospital system in the country,” said Anne Bové, RN, President of New York State Nurses Association’s (NYSNA) Health and Hospitals Corporation Executive Committee. “No patient is ever turned away. But the crisis of hospital closures, privatization, and sub-contracting are hurting care for our patients. NYSNA nurses are fighting to defend healthcare for those who need it the most – low-income communities of color and the uninsured. We need renewed investment in our public hospital system and safe nurse-patient staffing levels, not cuts or closures.”

“It’s time to end the injustice of healthcare inequality in our city,” said Public Advocate de Blasio. “Every New Yorker has a right to high-quality healthcare in their own community. Our public hospitals can be the cornerstone of that commitment. Working with our HHC nurses on the front lines, we need to embrace a new vision for healthcare that leaves no one behind.”

Council Member James said, “The systematic destabilization and privatization of our public hospitals is unacceptable. Long-established HHC institutions like North Central Bronx Hospital, a model community hospital that delivered babies for almost 40 years, saw its Labor and Delivery Services shutdown; and Coler-Goldwater Memorial Hospital, which serves a vulnerable population, is slated to shutdown with no plans to transfer those patients— it is clear these actions do not serve the public interest. We owe New Yorkers, and the dedicated HHC nurses and staff that address public health, much better.”

Manhattan Borough President Stringer spoke of the importance of HHC nurses in times of crises. “When Sandy caused massive power outages in Bellevue, Coney Island , and Coler-Goldwater Hospitals, HHC nurses safely evacuated hundreds of patients,” he said.

HHC nurses have worked for more than three years without a union contract. They are calling for “a fair contract, a renewed investment in public healthcare, and for improved nurse-to-patient staffing levels in HHC facilities.”

Studies link safe nurse-to-patient ratios with lower patient mortality rates, favorable patient outcomes, and shorter patient stays.

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