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Nurses on strike picket outside Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Jersey for 4th day

New Jersey nurses strikes reaches day 4
New Jersey nurses strikes reaches day 4 02:03

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. -- Nurses at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick were on strike for a fourth day Monday. 

Staffing levels are a sticking point between the United Steelworkers Local 4-200 and the hospital.

After contract talks stalled, more than 1,700 nurses walked off the job Friday. But passion on the picket line is not waning. 

"Clearly, we're all united for a common purpose here," said Jennifer Kwock. 

Kwock, who works in the neonatal ICU, said depleted staffing levels create dangerous conditions for patients and cause nurses burnout. 

"If we are spread, too many patients to take care of, how can they get the attention and the care that they deserve, that any patient deserves?" said Kwock. 

Burnout is a factor in creating a nationwide shortage of nurses, which is hurling the industry into crisis mode. 

A study released earlier in the year by the American Nurses Foundation found 57 percent of nurses surveyed said they felt "exhausted" and 43 percent felt "burned out." 

Another analysis by McKinsey and Company estimated there could be a national shortfall of as many as 450,000 nurses by 2025. 

"It's driving nurses away. If nurses had safe staffing every day, I think we could get a better grip on the problem that's going on," said Local 4-200 President Judy Danella. 

Despite gloomy estimates, hospital administrators said Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital has one of the highest staffing levels in New Jersey

Hospital administrators said they reached out to the union about meeting back at the table to negotiate in good faith, but no meeting has been set. 

The hospital remains fully staffed during the strike, officials said. Replacement nurses were brought in for at least 60 days. 

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