BREAKING NEWS: Montefiore nurses, residents want to be heard

One union wants to be recognized while the other wants management to address shortage

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Montefiore Medical Center faces union issues on two fronts in the past week. The nurses union spoke out on staffing shortage and the resident physicians and fellows seek recognition of their union amid staff shortages and Bronx clinic closures.

On Friday members of the New York State Nurses Association spoke out publicly at Montefiore, New York Presbyterian, Brooklyn Hospital and Mt. Sinai that “has left caregivers burnt out and at their breaking point.” Those members face expiring contracts on Dec. 31. Nurses are calling on their bosses to invest in hiring and retain enough nurses to keep patients safe.

“We are speaking out today because Montefiore, like so many other New York City hospitals, has created a staffing crisis by failing to hire and retain enough nurses,” said Benny Mathew, RN at Montefiore and NYSNA director at large. Nurses are suffering because we’re exhausted, and our patients are suffering because their care is delayed due to unsafe staffing.”

Another Montefiore nurse is upset specifically about the closure of a home-care program that helped high-risk mothers and their babies.

“Time and time again, I’ve seen Montefiore put profits before patient care,” said Vanessa Weldon, an RN and NYSNA member. “Now, Montefiore shutting down another lifeline for vulnerable mothers and babies — the Montefiore Nurse-Family Partnership. The loss of this preventative health program means that women of color will continue to die at alarming rates from health conditions that could have been avoided.”

Regarding the resident physicians, representatives of the more than 1,200 resident doctors who work at Montefiore held a press conference Tuesday demanding voluntary recognition for their union, which is an ally of the NYSNA. The union, Committee of Interns and Residents, is a local of the Service Employees International Union, respresenting more than 22,000 resident physicians and fellows in the country.

“So many of us chose to do our residency here because we want to work in the Bronx, and with the diverse and historically underserved community that lives here we know we can do more,” said Dr. Rex Tai, a second-year internal medicine resident at Montefiore. “Our hope is that through our union, we can advocate for the resources we need to help improve healthcare access in the Bronx.”

A NYSNA member voiced her union’s support for the residents.

“Nurses and resident physicians are responsible for providing the majority of care in Montfiore facilities,” said Karine Raymond, RN of Montefiore Weiler Hospital and NYSNA chair at the hospital. “And we can confront the same issues and challenges at work — our roles are different, but our fight is one fight.”

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