The union representing a group of nurses at a New York City hospital reached a tentative contract agreement with its management, but close to 9,000 nurses at several other major hospitals were still preparing to go on strike.
The New York State Nurses Association and BronxCare Health System said Saturday that a tentative agreement had been reached; the union said it included pay raises every year of its three-year term as well as staffing increases.
Another hospital, Flushing Hospital Medical Center, got to a tentative agreement with nurses on Friday evening.
But agreements to avoid a walkout starting Monday morning had yet to be reached at other private hospitals including Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, which both have more than than 1,000 beds.
The hospitals have taken steps to prepare for a strike through patient transfers and directing ambulances elsewhere.
Some hospitals have still not reached a tentative deal with nurses to stop the strike. Jen Maxfield reports.
That makes five hospitals that have at least reached tentative agreements: New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Maimonides Hospital, Richmond University Medical Center, Flushing and BronxCare. One of those tentative deals, at Maimonides Hospital, has already been ratified by the union, eliminating the chance of a strike from taking place.
“The approval of this agreement is good for Maimonides, good for our nurses, and good for the patients we serve. We worked together to find common ground that supports our hardworking nurses and ensures our patients, many from underserved communities, continue to receive the best possible care,” Maimonides Health CEO Ken Gibbs said in a statement. “I am grateful to the members of Maimonides’ and NYSNA’s negotiating teams, in particular NYSNA President Nancy Hagans, for making this agreement possible.”
Hagans called the offer the “best contract that we have ever had” and that it “helps demonstrate our hospital’s respect for nurses and our patients.”
As for the other hospitals previously mentioned, those tentative agreements must be voted on by members of the nurses union. If approved, those hospitals would similarly avoid strikes. Voting will be completed on Saturday for NY-Presbyterian, and on Monday for Richmond and Flushing, the NYSNA said.
Patients are being transported to other hospitals ahead of a possible nurses strike. Melissa Colorado reports.
Meanwhile, one of the city’s largest hospital systems is making true on its word that it would start taking take drastic measures to prepare for a strike.
Mount Sinai Health System is beginning to divert “a majority” of ambulances from four of its facilities, and is transferring babies from its neonatal intensive care units to other hospital systems, according to a memo from hospital leadership to staff, a copy of which was obtained by News 4.
Video from Friday showed a baby being transferred from the hospital’s NICU into an ambulance en route to another hospital, a sign that Mt. Sinai is already scaling back on patient care. A source told NBC New York that moving such a fragile young child is a logistical process that can take hours, with one baby in an isolette or incubator allowed inside an ambulance at a time.
A spokesperson for Mt. Sinai called the nurses union “reckless” and said that a strike would “jeopardize patients’ care,” adding that “it’s time for [the nurses union] to meet us back at the bargaining table and continue negotiating in good faith.”
But the nurses union told NBC New York that Mt. Sinai are the ones who walked away from the negotiating table instead, perhaps showing how far apart the two sides may be in the waning hours before the potential strike. They said that the hospital’s negotiating team walked away from the table at midnight and canceled Friday’s negotiating session.
“We want the safe nurse-to-patient rations in every contract, a patient deserves better. Our communities deserve better. We all deserve better,” said Hagans.
Mount Sinai said it offered a three-year series of pay raises totaling 19%, matching what the union recently achieved in tentative contract agreements reached with some other hospitals. Management says they negotiated past midnight into early Friday morning with the help of a mediator but were still at an impasse over wages. That deal was higher than the one extended by NY-Presbyterian over the weekend.
Mount Sinai’s chief nursing officer, Fran Cartwright, said the talks hit a roadblock when management tried to move on to staffing and the union still wanted to discuss salaries. She said management was ready to resume talks once the union was willing to address other issues.
A memo earlier in the week from the leaders of Mount Sinai Hospital, Mount Sinai Morningside and Mount Sinai West made clear that most issues in the ongoing negotiations have been resolved — but not all, and the clock is ticking.
“To do what is best for our patients, we have no choice but to proceed with our strike planning,” the memo says, outlining a series of steps:
- Diverting ambulances from Mount Sinai Hospital, Mount Sinai West, Mount Sinai Morningside and Mount Sinai Beth Israel
- Cancelling elective surgeries, and scheduling only emergency surgeries at the main and Morningside facilities
- Transferring some patients. “In addition, this – sadly – means transferring NICU babies outside the Mount Sinai Health System to ensure they get the care they so desperately need.”
- Discharging “as many patients as appropriate” and shifting services – inpatient care at the main and West facilities, and emergency and child psychiatry at the Morningside campus
A Mount Sinai source told News 4 that there were more than 50 NICU babies on site, slightly below the maximum capacity of 64.
Additionally, according to several hospital insiders and union representatives, nurses in the Mount Sinai neonatal intensive care unit are furious they were not informed about plans to transfer their frail newborn patients to other hospitals. They said that they found out after it was reported by News 4.
A source says there is a lot of frustration among doctors and NICU nurses after the hospital announced plans to relocate their NICU babies, because they say there have been nurse shortages in this unit that make it impossible to maintain target nurse to baby ratios.
“They didn’t care about the staffing problems in the NICU until there was a threat of a strike,” the source said.
Cartwright said the flagship was “heartbroken” about having to transfer patients, particularly the infants, but would ensure the right care for them and patients who remain.
Nurses have said that there has been some progress at some bargaining tables where hospitals are negotiating with their respective staffs, but not enough progress to avoid a strike — yet.
“The New York State Nurses Association will rescind a strike notice when we reach a tentative agreement at Mount Sinai that respects nurses and our patients. Not before,” said New York State Nurses Association president Nancy Hagans.
“Nurses feel abandoned and disrespected by their bosses,” Hagans said. “We held the hands of dying patients, set up last FaceTime calls so dying patients could say goodbye to their loved ones.”
The New York State Nurses Association says its nurses are not backing down in a fight for better wages, staffing and benefits. Rana Novini reports.
Aside from the two Mt. Sinai sites (the main campus and Mt. Sinai Morningside and West) there is another private hospital (Montefiore) that is on notice for a potential strike starting the morning of Jan. 9 — a move that would send already busy hospitals into full-on crisis mode, and potentially have a devastating impact on care.
Each of the hospitals negotiates individually with their own nurses, so depending on how talks go, there could be no strikes at all, a single strike or as many as five strikes.
“It could be an enormous public health calamity,” Ken Raske of the Greater New York Hospital Association previously told NBC New York. He has described the mood as among hospital managers as “extremely apprehensive.”
Montefiore Senior Vice President Joe Solmonese said nurses were rejecting a “generous” offer. He said it mirrored raises the union had agreed to elsewhere, while also adding 78 more emergency room nurses and making other increases in pay, benefits and staffing.
Seven private hospitals are on notice for a potential strike Monday morning. Melissa Russo reports.
The nurses union said there has been at least one sign of progress: All of the hospitals on the list have agreed to not cut health benefits.
“There has been some offers and progress but we are not there yet,” said Hagans.
Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office has said previously that they are “monitoring the situation.” Sources said that both Hochul and NYC Mayor Eric Adams are getting regular daily updates on the talks. While the hospitals involved are all private, meaning neither Hochul nor Adams have any formal role, some have wondered whether they would step in to apply pressure or try to broker a deal.
Aides to Gov. Hochul confirmed that she has been very engaged for many days, not directly at the bargaining table but speaking to both sides regularly and pushing both sides to get to yes. The state has also started to review the hospitals’ strike contingency plans.
On Friday, Hochul said that there “is no alternative. We need to make sure that the people of New York are being taken care of.”
New York-Presbyterian has a tentative agreement with nurses to avoid a strike, but there are 7 other hospitals who are not in the same situation. NBC New York’s Melissa Russo reports.
The New York State Nurses Association has thousands of members threatening to conduct strikes at hospitals where contracts expired on Dec. 31.
The union says members are upset about staffing ratios at the local hospitals, contract proposals that they feel dramatically worsen their healthcare benefits (while paying big bonuses to executives), and Mayor Adams’ recent move to forcibly hospitalize psychiatric patients. All of those elements have left workers overworked and burnt out.
“We’re not able to clean the patient on time, not able to give medicine on time, no breaks,” said Allen. “Burnout was real, so we leave the profession and go to work at a travel agency that’s going to pay us more.”
The nurses are pressing for commitments to what they consider gold-standard staffing levels, such as having at least one nurse for each of the sickest patients in intensive care, and one nurse to about four patients in a typical medical-surgical unit.
With as many as 12,000 nurses threatening to walk off the job on January 9th, the Greater New York Hospital Association is forced to prepare. Melissa Russo reports.
The average salary for nurses in New York is $93,000, and $98,000 in NYC, nurses union and the GNYHA confirmed. However, there is a big disparity between nurse pay in private vs public hospitals, where salaries are almost $20,000 less.
All of this comes as the city deals with what is being called a tridemic – simultaneous and serious spikes in infections with COVID, the flu and the respiratory condition RSV.
The city has already issued an advisory (but not a mandate) suggesting that people go back to wearing masks indoors.
“Our ERs are backed up, the tripledemic is raging,” said Raske. “Even if one hospital would have a strike, it could ripple through the entire system.”
Meanwhile, negotiations also are ongoing with four Brooklyn private hospitals. Nurses there have yet to authorize a strike, though votes are in progress, Hagans said.
Source: NBC New York
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