1. Pfeifer, Gail M. MA, RN


Hospitals agree to hire 1,500 nurses in addition to offering better benefits.


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A four-year agreement has been reached between members of the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) and three health systems-Mount Sinai, Montefiore, and New York Presbyterian. The NYSNA had given notice in March of intent to strike on April 2. The main issue dividing the nurses and the hospitals was inadequate staffing; some nurses were caring for up to 19 patients per assignment, according to the NYSNA. Hospital management agreed to discuss solutions after a neutral mediator helped bring the union and the hospital systems into negotiations.


Core issues included staffing ratios, wage increases, and retiree health benefits. Now the hospitals will use enforceable staffing grids that account for patient census and acuity, and new hires will be allocated accordingly. To meet staffing needs, nearly 1,500 new nurses will be hired. Wage increases, retroactive to the December expiration date of the previous contract, will be 3% annually for the duration of the current contract. Retirees with 20 years of service will continue receiving NYSNA retiree health coverage, including spouse/partner and dependent benefits, until they are eligible for Medicare. Dental and vision benefits will also be covered. Frontline RNs, NPs, nurse anesthetists, case managers, and midwives will have a say in how nurse-to-patient staffing grids are established, according to a statement by Robin Krinsky, a NYSNA board member and president of the Mt. Sinai Hospital Executive Committee.


Some nurses have expressed doubt that the terms of the contract will be honored on the agreed-upon timetable, if at all. But a NYSNA spokesman expressed confidence that they will. "The contracts call for allocation committees to act within 30 days of signing," Carl Ginsburg, NYSNA communications director, told AJN.


The NYSNA has consistently supported the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act introduced in the New York State Senate in January 2017. If enacted, it would require "sufficient, appropriately qualified direct-care nurses in each department or unit within [each] facility in order to meet the individualized care needs of the patients therein." The provisions would apply to all health care facilities, including nursing homes. The bill, A1532, is still in committee.-Gail M. Pfeifer, MA, RN, news director