MICHIGAN, United States – Two of the largest hospitals in New York City are without nursing staff as over 7,000 nurses went on strike Monday over the need for proper patient care caused by widespread staffing shortages.
The strikes took place early Monday morning, according to reporting by CNN, at three locations of Montfiore Medical Center in the Bronx and Mount Sinai Hospital in Upper Manhattan as talks had collapsed overnight from Sunday into Monday when officials from the hospitals and unions came together to the bargaining table.
Tentative agreements had come together at several hospitals over the past week, including two new agreements late Sunday evening. An offer of a 19 percent pay hike had been offered to the union, which they refused.
Nancy Hagans, President of the New York State Nurses Association, identified the problem as one of staffing shortages that took place during the pandemic and have not been righted since, causing an untenable ratio of nurse to patients—sometimes as high as one to 20.
“As nurses, our top concern is patient safety,” Hagans said in a statement on Friday. “Yet nurses have been forced to work without enough staff stretched to our breaking point.”
The lack of staff and nurses being overworked has caused burnout not only in New York City but in medical establishments across the nation.
Hagans expressed too that the hospitals are not filling the shortages currently in place, citing Montfiore Medical Center’s current 760 staff openings.
Together, the two hospitals across four locations make up 16 percent of all hospital beds in the city.
New York State’s Governor Kathy Hochul even intervened on Monday, urging the union and management to agree to binding arbitration first. The union turned the idea down, despite the hospital management agreeing on the idea, and pushing back on the union’s refusal to cooperate.
“NYSNA continues its reckless behavior. The Governor’s proposal would have provided a path to avoid a strike,” Mount Sinai said in a statement on Monday. “Our first priority is the safety of our patients. We encourage Mount Sinai nurses to continue providing the world-class care they’re known for, in spite of NYSNA’s strike.”
A notice was given by the union to hospital brass 10 days ago to negotiate a fair contract or make other arrangements.
“We need management to come to the table and provide better staffing,” Hagans said in a press call Sunday afternoon,” she said. “The fact that they have failed to come to the table means they have failed the community.”