Nurses picket outside Watertown’s hospital over ‘understaffing crisis’

Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 2:42 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Carrying signs like “Some Cuts Don’t Heal” and “More Nurses = Better Care,” members of the New York State Nurses Association at Samaritan Medical Center held an informational picket in front of the hospital Thursday.

The nurses want to raise awareness about what they call “the understaffing crisis throughout the hospital, especially on medical-surgical, critical care, and mental health units, and in the emergency department.”

Because of the staffing shortage, the nurses say they’re having to care for too many patients. They say the suggested pattern is one nurse taking care of 4 or 5 patients and right now it could be close to double that.

Samaritan recognizes this is a national problem and says it’s working to fill open registered nursing jobs.

“Safe staffing gives us the way that we take care of our patients and care for this community. It’s our friends and our neighbors and right now we cannot give them more than adequate care. We want to give them excellent care,” said Jenifer Anderson, a registered nurse.

“Unfortunately the entire healthcare industry, many employers, we’re all facing the same national labor shortage. That is not something that is insulated to Samaritan. It is across the country, across the state,” said Leslie DiStefano, Samaritan Health spokesperson.

Samaritan’s contract with the nurses association expired at the end of July last year.

Both sides continue to negotiate and staffing is one of the issues.

The union is 360 people strong at Samaritan and represents 42,000 members across the state.

Samaritan employs close to 2,500 people system-wide.