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Potential nurses strike looming in New York as hospitals brace for influx of tripledemic cases

New York nurses strike possible as experts predict tripledemic spike
New York nurses strike possible as experts predict tripledemic spike 02:20

NEW YORK -- Thousands of nurses are days away from potentially going on strike in New York as hospitals are preparing for another influx in tripledemic cases following the holidays.

Nancy Hagans is a registered nurse at Maimonides Medical Center and president of the New York State Nurses Association. The union represents 17,000 nurses across 12 private sector hospitals in New York City.

"Do you foresee the nurses going on strike?" CBS2's Ali Bauman asked. 

"It's really not up to us. It's up to the bosses," Hagans said.

The union just voted overwhelmingly to go on strike if the hospitals cannot agree to a contract by Dec. 31.

READ MORE: "We're asking to be taken care of": Nurses at 12 New York City hospitals begin voting on possible strike

"We are going to give a 10-day notice to the hospital management and ... we're gonna still continue to negotiate in good faith, and then once the 10 days have expired, the nurses will not work," Hagans said.

The union has been in contract negotiations with the private hospitals since September. The nurses are asking for a pay raise that keeps up with inflation and for the hospitals to hire more staff.

"You cannot continue to ask a nurse to work in the medical surgical unit where she should have five patients [and] now she's carrying 12 patients," Hagans said.

This all comes as medical experts are predicting another fierce wave of the so-called tripledemic -- COVID-19, the flu and RSV.

READ MORE: "Tripledemic" of flu, COVID and RSV lead to new face mask recommendations in New York City

Tuesday, New York saw its fifth child this season die from the flu, and doctors anticipate the flu season to hit its peak in January.

"I anticipate that we are going to have a post-holiday surge," said Dr. William Schaffner, of Vanderbilt University.

Watch Cristian Benavides' report

Health experts predict "tripledemic" comeback after holiday gatherings 02:09

While the potential strike would affect private sector hospitals, both Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul say they're monitoring negotiations.

CBS2 has learned the state health department plans to gather intel on each hospital's readiness to maintain operations, and if there is a strike, the state will track the facilities for overcrowding.

"All we want is to be able to care for our patients safely," Hagans said.

Most of the impacted hospitals told us they hope to avoid a strike.

Richmond University Medical Center on Staten Island said, "Should it become necessary, we would activate our surge plan, same as other hospitals, to ensure that anyone in need of care can have access to it."

The federal government has released reserves of Tamiflu to relieve some of the demand, and to prevent stockpiling, CVS, Target and Walgreens are now limiting purchase of over-the-counter children's medicine.

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