Nursing shortage to be focus of hospital picket

Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 4:47 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - An informational picket is planned next week at Watertown’s Samaritan Medical Center to bring awareness to what nurses, and the New York State Nurses Association say is a much larger, national problem.

With staffing shortages, nurses say caseloads are too high.

“Nurses just have decided that, you know, we want better for our patients and we’re not going to settle for less for our patients,” said Robin Monroe, nurse, Samaritan Medical Center, and member of the NYSNA.

Picketing their ongoing struggle, they say, of providing safe staffing.

“On the med-surge floor, they’re having between eight and nine patients per nurse. The suggested staffing pattern is one nurse per four to five patients, and that’s including live-in nurses’ aid to help them out. So they’re almost double,” said Monroe.

It’s a problem throughout the state and nation.

A few weeks ago, nurses from two New York City hospitals, including one of the largest, Mount Sinai, picketed for three days, expressing concerns about working conditions and patient care.

CBS News reports New York state needs nearly 13,000 nurses to re-enter the workforce. Mainly people who left their job because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were already in a nursing shortage prior to the pandemic and the pandemic just added to that,” said Monroe.

In a statement to 7 News, a spokesperson for Samaritan Medical Center said: “Samaritan is dealing with the same staffing challenges faced by most healthcare employers in this state. We have utilized agency staff to help address this issue, and we have taken other measures to help us combat the nationwide nursing shortage. Samaritan recognizes that we need to continue working to recruit new RNs and retain our current RNs in what has become an extremely challenging healthcare environment.”

The informational picket will take place Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. SMC said the demonstration “will not cause any disruption to patient care services or impact hospital operations.”