RNs Fight for Safe Pt Care

  1. Nurses to Picket for Safe Patient Care

    Frustrated Shore Memorial Hospital nurses in southern New Jersey, fearing that short-staffing is endangering their patients, will conduct informational picketing Monday night, April 8, from 6 to 8 p.m. outside the Somers Point facility.
    The picket line will be near the emergency entrance at Brighton and Shore Roads.

    The nurses' union, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), has been negotiating with the hospital since June 2001 for a contract that would include safer staffing policies.

    "Nurses have been leaving this hospital because of unsafe staffing levels and the intolerable hours we have to work," said bargaining unit president Joanne Gramlich, an ER nurse. "Several nurses have left since January. These were seasoned, experienced RNs, most from specialty areas like the Intensive Care Unit and the Mother-Baby Unit which are difficult to staff anyway." Gramlich maintains the hospital fills staffing holes by floating nurses to units they are not familiar with.

    "That is a dangerous practice. How would you like to be brought in with a heart attack, and look up to see that your nurse is from the pediatrics unit and can't read heart monitors?" she asked. "Exhausted nurses are leaving rather than risk their patients' safety by working too many hours caring for too many patients. But management refuses to negotiate safer staffing guidelines and more reasonable hours for the nurses."

    While mandatory overtime is illegal in New Jersey, Shore Memorial uses a virtually identical tactic called "mandatory on-call." Nurses who are not working are often told they must be "on-call," and are almost always called in.

    The union has designed "Protest of Assignment" forms so that nurses can document such abuses. While dozens have been presented to management in recent months, managers have ignored them, claiming that they know best how to staff the 400-bed facility. Religious groups, community organizations, and other area labor-union members are expected to attend the informational picketing session Monday night to support Shore's 430 nurses.

    The public and all RNs from the surrounding areas are invited to attend and make their voices heard: Safe Staffing IS Safe Patient Care.

    Additionally, there is a tentative public candlelight vigil for Safe Staffing/Safe Pt Care scheduled for 7pm the evening of April 16th in front of the facility which is near Atlantic City, NJ.

    for more information, call NYSNA at (518) 782-9400.
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  3. by   -jt
    press release
    http://www.NYSNA.org

    Rikers Island Prison Nurses Protest Excessive Overtime

    Picketing in front of facility Friday afternoon

    QUEENS, NYC April 9, 2002 - Prison Health Services (PHS), which operates the health care facility at Rikers Island Prison, insists that forced overtime is not a problem for its registered nurse workforce. Yet the nurses say the facility is so short staffed that management regularly demands that RNs stay past their shifts.

    The facility has been relying on nurses to volunteer to fill vacancies in its schedules. When no one volunteers, the nurses say management forces them to stay late, rather than seeking temporary help.

    The nurses, represented by the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) have been trying through current contract negotiations to improve their working conditions. NYSNA has proposed that PHS cannot use forced overtime unless there is a vacancy that could not be prudently planned for. The association is also proposing that PHS pay more when it forces a nurse to work overtime, so that the added cost will serve as a disincentive.

    NYSNA believes the use of forced overtime is dangerous to patients because it forces nurses to work when they are exhausted. Moreover, mandatory overtime is unfair to nurses, who cannot say for sure when they will be able to go home to their families.

    As a result, the nurses will be picketing on Friday, April 12 from noon to 2 p.m., at the corner of Hazen Street and 19th Avenue in Astoria. Prison Health Services is a private employer that operates health services at Rikers Island under contract from the City of New York.

    The nurses have been working without a contract since December 31, 2001.
    For more information, call Mark Genovese at NYSNA (518) 782-9400, Ext. 353.

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