Park Slope

Nurses at New York Methodist Hospital rally for ‘safe staffing’

NYM: 'We are hiring at least 20 nurses a month'

December 15, 2014 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Nurses at New York Methodist Hospital in Park Slope rallied on Monday to bring attention to what they call unsafe staffing levels. Photo by Mary Frost

Nurses at New York Methodist Hospital in Park Slope chanted and marched at a rally on Monday, to bring attention to what they called unsafe levels of staffing at the hospital.

“There were over 3,000 protests filed by nurses over the past two years,” said Irving Campbell, a registered nurse working at NYM for the past 12 years.

“We had an independent arbitrator rule in our favor in October that the hospital was not in compliance,” he said. “We met with the management several times, but they failed to come up with an agreement on numbers. Nurses are fed up. It’s about safety for patients.”

Campbell says NYM is dragging their feet on new hiring.

Med-surge units (medical-surgical units, which treat chronically ill and those recovering from surgery) should have a one-to-six ratio of nurses to patients, he said.

“That’s not being honored. On most units, there are two-to-three patients more than there should be. It makes a world of difference to patients. We strive to give the best of care, but response time may be a little longer than you like.”

Maria Arizmendia, an intensive care (ICU) nurse working at NYM for 29 years told the Eagle, “New York Methodist is a very progressive hospital. Over the years, the volume of patients has gone up, and now there are not enough nurses. All we ask is for med-surge to have a one-to-six patient ratio. We can have as many as ten-to-twelve at a time.”

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“We are certainly not ‘dragging [our] feet,’” Lyn Hill, NYM vice president for communication and external affairs told the Eagle on Monday. “We are hiring as quickly as nurses can be oriented, trained and safely integrated into our staff.”

“The arbitrator asked the hospital to make a plan to achieve staffing ratios agreed to by both NYM and NYSNA [the New York State Nurses Association],” she said. “The hospital has made the plan and is currently implementing it.

“We are hiring at least 20 nurses a month and will continue to do so until the target ratio is met,” Hill said, estimating that the process would take about six months.

Hill pointed out that not all of the nurses on Monday’s picket line worked at NYM. NYSNA is currently campaigning for safe staffing levels statewide, and is in contract negotiations with NYM.

Nurses and emergency medical technicians told the Eagle that the closure of Long Island College Hospital (LICH) in Cobble Hill has swamped NYM.

“Ever since LICH closed we’ve received increasing patient volume,” Campbell said. “The ER has been flooded; we’ve received patients right and left. It’s had a profound impact.”

Outside the ER at noon on Monday, five FDNY ambulances were parked on the street and several more were inside the ER bay.

An EMT who wished to remain unnamed told the Eagle, “Since LICH closed? Oh my God, Methodist is way overcrowded.”

NYU Langone spokesperson Lisa Greiner told the Eagle late Monday that EMS was bringing patients requiring “general emergency department care to Cobble Hill.” NYU provided no further details.

FDNY spokesperson Frank Dwyer confirmed that FDNY ambulances were bringing “non-critical patients” to NYU Langone Cobble Hill.

This article has been updated to reflect that ambulances are delivering non-critical patients to NYU Langone Cobble Hill, contrary to what an EMT told the Brooklyn Eagle earlier on Monday.

 

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