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NYC Nurses Strike Disrupts Patient Care for 3rd Day; Here’s Why and Latest Updates



What to Know

  • About 3,500 Montefiore nurses and 3,625 Mount Sinai nurses went on strike at 6 a.m. Monday, disrupting patient care at two of the biggest hospitals in New York City as they demand better pay and more staff to address what they say is a critical shortage in their facilities
  • Progress is being made with respect to negotiations at Montefiore, a union official said Tuesday, and Mount Sinai hopes a deal approved by its sister campuses will get those at its main one back to the bargaining table in short order, a spokesperson said Wednesday
  • Nurses on the picket lines stressed that staffing levels are a bigger issue than pay. New York City’s nurses were hailed as heroes in the spring of 2020 when the city was an epicenter of deaths from COVID-19 — and they say they’re suffering burnout from chronic understaffing

A nursing strike that has disrupted patient care at two of New York City’s largest hospitals entered its third day Wednesday, with a union official saying progress was being made toward a possible settlement at one of the institutions as a spokesperson for the other expressed hope a deal might come soon.

As many as 7,100 nurses at the Bronx’s Montefiore Medical Center and The Mount Sinai Hospital on Manhattan’s east side walked off the job Monday, demanding higher pay and more staffing after weekend contract talks stalled. Both facilities had to postpone or cancel elective surgeries, divert ambulances and assign administrations with nursing backgrounds to help fill the gaps in care with so many critical frontline personnel joining the demonstrations.

Montefiore and Mount Sinai are the last of a group of hospitals with nursing contracts that expired simultaneously.

The union, New York State Nurses Association, initially warned that it would strike at all of them but the other hospitals reached agreements as the strike deadline neared. Those deals include raises of 7%, 6%, and 5%, respectively, over the next three years.

More than 70% of nurses at other Mount Sinai hospitals, including Mount Sinai Morningside and Mount Sinai West, have voted to accept a deal reached last weekend, which spokesperson Lucia Lee said Wednesday she hoped would motivate personnel at its main hospital to reach a resolution soon.

“Over 70% of nurses at Mount Sinai Morningside and Mount Sinai West voted to ratify a labor contract that puts nurses and patients first,” she said. “The overwhelming support for this contract gives us hope that a resolution is close at The Mount Sinai Hospital and the union will bargain in good faith to end this strike.”


Nurses at the main Mount Sinai facility have argued that colleagues at Morningside and Mount Sinai West had better differential pay and better conditions to start.

Meanwhile, progress was being made toward a settlement at Montefiore, Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, a union official and a nurse at the Bronx hospital system, said Tuesday.

On the picket line outside, nurses said they had to strike because chronic understaffing leaves them caring for too many patients.

News 4’s Andrew Siff reports.

“We’re tired now — overwhelmed. Nurses are burned out,” said Saffie Sesay, an emergency room nurse at the hospital. “It’s just getting worse.”

The New York State Nurses Association said in the lead-up to the strike — and after it started — that no one wanted to walk out, but claimed the privately owned, nonprofit hospitals had forced the action. Three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the union says understaffing remains a chronic problem and wages aren’t high enough to compensate.

Striking nurses stressed that staffing levels are a bigger issue than pay. New York City’s nurses were hailed as heroes in the spring of 2020 when the city was an epicenter of deaths from COVID-19. Now, they say they are being burned out by poor staffing levels that have been a problem for years.


“Remember, even prior to (the) pandemic we’re already short of staff,” said Mount Sinai nurse Nagie Pamphil. She said nurses in her unit are now expected to care for twice as many patients as they can safely handle.

“That’s impossible,” she said.

Montefiore said it had agreed to add 170 more nurses. Mount Sinai’s administration said the union’s focus on nurse-to-patient ratios “ignores the progress we have made to attract and hire more new nurses, despite a global shortage of healthcare workers that is impacting hospitals across the country.”

One relative of a Montefiore patient said the staffing Tuesday seemed somewhat thin.

“It felt like there wasn’t enough people” working, said Shivie Tahal, whose daughter had a longer wait than usual for an appointment. He said the waiting area appeared fuller.

Tahal’s wife is a nurse at another hospital but isn’t on strike. He hoped that the dispute “works out for the best for both parties — the patients and the nurses.”

Barbara Roman said her 10-year-old daughter was admitted Monday afternoon with respiratory problems. She said there seemed to be enough people to attend to her child.


“If there’s a little less staff on the floor, it doesn’t matter as long as she’s getting the care she needs,” Roman said, adding that her daughter did.

More than 7,000 nurses walked out after bargaining broke down early Monday. Melissa Russo reports.

Associated Press writer Bobby Caina Calvan contributed to this report.

Source: NBC New York


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