New York nurses go on strike, ask for better staffing

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

August 18, 2014

NEW YORK – Ninety-nine mostly Filipino nurses at the Terrence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center went on a one day strike in New York’s Upper East Side on Friday.

“We’re really fight for safe staffing, safety for our patients, for ourselves also,” said one of the strikers, Maria Elizabeth Dimaano.

This Filipino nurse says she has worked at the 28 bed pediatrics unit for 24 years now. Dimaano says gone were the days when there were five nurses assigned to her unit – now she says, there’s only one.

“It puts their licenses at risk, our licenses at risk, and also we’re not able to provide good quality care if there’s only one nurses with a total of 22 patients,” said Dimaa, who is a Registered Nurse in the pediatrics unit. “We provide treatments and feedings, and on top of that we do our nurses notes. Some of them we couldn’t even finish so we have to do it at home.”

Rosamond Cuello has been working at the 26 patient HIV/AIDS unit for nine years now. She claims that instead of providing at least two registered nurses, she works the shift by herself.

Capital New York reported that the 600 bed Terrence Cardinal Cooke Facility has recently received a five-star rating from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services which officials say is an indication that patients are given appropriate care in their facility.

While hospital officials say that staffing levels are appropriate and in some cases exceed regulatory requirements, Cuello believes otherwise.

“We want them to increase the staffing ratio, like give us more nurses to work with so that we can give quality care,” said Cuello.
These Filipino nurses belong to the 37,000 member New York State Nurses Union that has been pushing for a “safe staffing law”, but the bill never came to a vote during the last legislative session in New York State.

The Nurses Association will be back on the bargaining table on Tuesday to negotiate with management on staffing issues.

“We just want everybody to support us with our cause – for safe staffing,” said Cuello. “We are nurses and we save lives, and that is our main issue here – safe staffing for patient safety.”

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