Nurses walk picket lines for 2nd day at Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital
Nurses returned to the picket lines outside of Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital on Wednesday morning.
About 200 nurses began walking the picket line outside the hospital early Tuesday morning because the nurse's union and hospital officials have not been able to agree on a contract that they've been negotiating for two years.
They are demanding better pay, more staffing, and higher quality Personal Protection Equipment, or PPE.
The nurses say the issue that really brought them out to the picket line for the second day in a row is lack of staffing at the hospital. They hope the two-day strike will convince hospital officials to bring in more staffing as coronavirus cases are on the rise again in the area.
"This hospital has been hemorrhaging nurses for years because of the staffing conditions. What the nurse patient ratio, it should be one to six, but it's been one to eight, one to 10. It's been pretty overwhelming for these nurses here," said ER Nurse Shalln Matthews.
"And right now, we have less staff than we had in the spring, in the winter last year when COVID started, so we're not even worried. We're terrified," said Registered Nurse Kathy Santoiemma.
Back in March, New Rochelle was ground zero for coronavirus, and the nurses say they're worried another surge could quickly overwhelm hospital staff.
But officials at Montefiore disagree, saying they offered the union many incentives including a 7% pay raise for nurses, health insurance with no employee contribution, and they say they've stockpiled three-months' worth of PPE.
However, there has been no comment about staffing, and nurses say that's the problem.
"And we should not be losing nurses by the droves because they feel insecure taking care of so many patients," Santoiemma said.
When talks broke down, hospital officials said they put together a contingency plan that included moving some patients to other area hospitals.
News 12 was told that the plan is to strike until the end of today, with a return to work on Thursday.