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Nurses At Montefiore New Rochelle Planning To Strike; Union And Hospital Negotiating Solutions To PPE, Staffing Concerns

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Nurses in New Rochelle are planning to strike during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic unless contract negotiations with Montefiore Health System go their way.

CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis reported the decision to strike could be made Monday night.

Outside Montefiore New Rochelle, people waited for a COVID test in the rain, a reminder of the storm we're in, but nurses need no reminder.

"We're the ones that worked through COVID... We're the ones that held our patients hands. We're the ones that prayed with our patients," said Kathy Santoiemma, a registered nurse and Montefiore New Rochelle.

Santoiemma is among the registered nurses ready to walk off the job if contract negotiations don't move.

"The nurses here have been waiting here for two years to get a decent contract. This is unconscionable," said Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, president of the New York State Nurses Association, which would back the strike.


The union gave the hospital a 10 day warning of a strike unless it addresses safety concerns, many of which involve PPE and were listed in a complaint to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The union shared pictures that it claims show staff wearing the same masks - which easily break - for hours.

Nurses said their biggest concern is staffing: the nurse-to-patient ratio.

"A regular unit, you should be one to five," said Santoiemma. "I walked up there today, it was one to 11, one to 10, and then a nurse got sick and it was like two nurses for 31 patients."

"We're so short staffed right now. Then, what's gonna happen when the pandemic really come again?" said Marcia Hayles, another registered nurse.

MORE: Cuomo Outlines Winter COVID Plan With Strong Focus On Making Sure Hospitals Don't Get Overwhelmed

Marcos Crespo, a hospital spokesperson walked off the podium without taking questions at a news conference Monday.

"What about staffing, the nurse-to-patient ratio?" DeAngelis asked.

"It's answered in the statement," Crespo replied.

The hospital said it's offering the union, "over 7% in wage increases, medical expenses for retired nurses," Crespo said.

If there's a strike, the hospital will stay open, according to Crespo.

"But, we'll enact contingency plans including relocating patients to other facilities to ensure their safety," he said.

"They continue to staff the hospital at an unacceptable level and it puts nurses in harms way. It puts patients in harms way and it's unacceptable," said David Nightingale, a registered nurse.

If a deal isn't reached, nurses say they'll walk out at 7 a.m. Tuesday for a two-day strike.

The union said there is a committee that steps in when there's a strike in case of an emergency at the hospital.


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