The New York State Nurses Association recently settled a contract dispute with the New York City Hospital Alliance. Three of the largest local private hospital systems are part of the Alliance: Montefiore, Mount Sinai and New York Presbyterian.
What was the issue?
Nurses serving patients throughout New York have voiced concerns over dangerous nurse-to-patient staffing ratios and inadequate compensation. The settlement resulted in a four-year agreement which includes annual pay increases of 3% and increased tuition reimbursement as well as better retiree health benefits but failed to properly address better nurse-to-patient ratios.
How contentious was the agreement?
Not everyone was on board with the settlement agreement. Here is how the vote played out:
- Presbyterian: 91% voted in favor.
- Mount Sinai: 42% voted against.
- Montefiore: 51% voted against.
Although the agreement provides for the hiring of an additional 56 nurses per year with allocation committees designated with the task of distributing these new hires, it does not set a maximum number of patients per individual nurse. Instead, the agreement allows these decisions to be made at the department level utilizing a grid system instead of a ratio system. This could lead to an unequal distribution within the department.
What does this mean for nurses?
New York nurses that serve in these communities may experience a lighter patient load. However, they may still find themselves expected to serve more patients than ideal. These heavy patient caseloads can make it difficult for nurses to properly serve their patients – potentially resulting in investigations by the licensing board.
Nurses that find themselves the subject of such an investigation are wise to act to protect their interests. An attorney experienced in dealing with the New York State Education Department’s Office of Professions can discuss the process and advocate for your professional interests.