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NYC Health + Hospitals Leaders Begin Dialogue with New President & CEO


YC H+H nurses welcomed a special guest at our monthly Executive Committee meeting in February—the new President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals, Dr. Mitchell Katz. Dr. Katz comes to the New York City public hospital system after years of working in California’s public health system, both as the Director of the Los Angeles County Health Agency, and the Director and Health Officer of the San Francisco Department of Health. Dr. Katz presented some of his accomplishments and ideas for making NYC H+H an even greater resource to NYC’s patients. His approach focuses on expanding the base of insured patients that use the NYC H+H system in order to increase revenues and bring greater financial stability to the system. He plans to improve patient experience through better and more modern scheduling and administrative practices. He also plans to bring back outsourced services, such as pharmacies, into the facilities, and discontinue the use of overpaid consultants that don’t improve patient care. A Brooklyn native, he affirmed his commit-

ment to NYC’s public hospital system and his belief that it can continue being a vital resource for New Yorkers well into the future—not through austerity, but through innovation and focusing on quality patient care. He emphasized his respect for nurses and the central role we play in the healthcare delivery system, as he took several questions from the Delegates in the room. Nurse leaders from throughout the system—from the big facilities, to long-term care, to Mayorals—all asked questions and weighed in. Nurses spoke out for safe staffing, for our practice and for our patients. They raised issues specific to their facilities and their units, and offered suggestions to improve patient care. Several nurses spoke passionately about their belief in the importance of NYC’s public hospitals. Kesha James, RN at Queens Hospital, shouted out her fellow night shift nurses and said, “I love being a public sector nurse. I’ve never thought about leaving my patients in the public sector. I just want to continue making it better!” NYC Health + Hospitals nurses are looking forward to continuing the dialogue with Dr. Katz. We are hopeful that through our mutual commitment to NYC’s public health system, we can work together to continue making it better.


That’s why nurses and working people throughout the country are anxiously awaiting a Supreme Court case, “Janus vs. AFSCME,” which is being heard on February 26. The ruling could allow public sector workers to stop paying union dues, while continuing to benefit from union rights and representation. This ruling by the majority-conservative Supreme Court could lead to a dramatic weakening of unions and ultimately, of workers’ power. Nurses are the patient advocates. When we are under attack, our patients are under attack. When we are not empowered to speak out about unsafe conditions in our facilities, we know that patient care will suffer.

Nurses and Patients Need Unions to Have a Strong Voice

NYSNA and all unions also play a critical role as advocates. NYSNA ensures policies are beneficial to nurses, patients, and really all working class people. Unions win greater equality for women and people of color. It’s very important that we stick together as a union, and that we stick together with other unions to fight for our rights” —Judith Cutchin, RN and President, NYC H+H & Mayorals Executive Council.

Eliminating mandatory overtime for nurses. Making assault against a nurse a felony crime. Introducing safe patient handling programs in hospitals. Keeping safety net hospitals open for care. Protecting our scope of practice. Winning safe staffing one unit and one contract at a time. Advocating for our patients without fear of retaliation. None of these victories would be possible without nurses organized into a powerful force by unions. To quote Frederick Douglas, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will.” All of the advances in the nursing profession have been won because nurses have demanded it, not because healthcare corporations have freely given it out of the goodness of their hearts. Nurses may be the most trusted profession as far as the public is concerned, but earning that trust and respect from hospital management, which too often puts profits before patients, often feels like an uphill battle. Nurses need a strong voice that comes from the unity of our colleagues and the backing of a union now more than ever in the era of “do more with less” corporate healthcare.

You will soon be hearing much more about this issue and the ways you can help educate and empower your colleagues. One immediate thing: we are asking that nurses turn out big and make our voices heard on the February 24 Working People’s Day of Action in Foley Square, Manhattan. Tens of thousands of union members and working people will gather throughout the country to send a message to the Supreme Court that we are ready to defend our rights! RSVP with your Representative today.


A Newsletter for NYSNA RNs at NYC Health + Hospitals


Bellevue Nurses Win New Staff Positions

the backbone of Bellevue and of all healthcare institutions. Nurses have so much power if we come together—we can do anything.”


ast fall, Bellevue Hospital nurses in the ICU, OR and ER were feeling the strain of working shortstaffed. Morale was low, and nurses were verbalizing their concerns in the break room. Lilia Marquez, RN, an experienced ICU nurse who is about to celebrate her 35th year of working at Bellevue, told nurses, “We can keep on talking, but we must do something. We must talk at the proper place and the proper time, so we challenge these conditions in a more positive way. If we take action, we can make a change.” Working together, nurses launched an intensive three-month campaign to win additional staff in the departments that need it most. More than 450 nurses in the ICU and 200 nurses in the OR circulated a petition calling for safe staffing. Nurses were diligent about filling out Protests of Assignment to document the shortages. “Our Protests of Assignment show a steady pattern of short staffing in our ED,” said Christina DeGaray, RN. “Month after month, these RN filings demonstrate that patient need is outpacing our staffing.”

Filling these nurse positions is vital, as the volume of patients that rely on treatment through Bellevue Emergency Services continues unabated.” —Todd Schultz, RN and LBU President, Bellevue

The ICU called two emergency meetings about staffing, and nurses persisted in raising the issue at every Nurse Practice and Labor Management Committee meeting in the fall. In January, Bellevue management announced the creation of 30 new staff positions. Twelve new nurses have already been hired, and more hires are expected soon. Nurses are holding management’s feet to the fire to make sure that the new nurses come through the door and go where they are most needed. “Filling these nurse positions is vital, as the volume of patients that rely on treatment through Bellevue Emergency Services continues unabated,” said Todd Schultz, RN, and LBU President. Added Christina DeGaray, RN, “We are happy that management has acknowledged our efforts to bring this issue forward.”

Nurses at NYSNA’s Leadership Training at Bellevue Hospital Center sign up for the February 24 Working People’s Day of Action. RSVP with your Rep, or by emailing mcp@nysna. org. Sign up for the March 3 Leadership Training at

“A little progress is a good thing—we must persist,” said Lilia Marquez, RN, Bellevue Hospital Center and NYNA Board Member. “I’ve worked in many different units and in the private sector, too. I met a lot of nurses. Though we work in different units, we all want to take care of patients the best we can. Nurses are



Solidarity and Strategy at Coney Island Hospital Lead to Big Wins

nurse education department was closed, and the responsibility for training new nurses, float and agency nurses increasingly fell to overburdened floor nurses. Moral was at an all-time low, but instead of giving up and giving in, Coney Island nurses took charge to make positive changes in their workplace.


he nurses at Coney Island Hospital have faced an uphill battle in recent years, but are finally beginning to see the light. Faced with multiple challenges, the nurses at Coney Island have regrouped, expanded their base of nurse leaders, and built solidarity across units, shifts and demographics. As a result, they have won major victories in recent months.

Nurses throughout the hospital got together to identify the most pressing issues and develop a strategy to address them. As the new LBU President, Ray Briggs, says, “There is a lot of evidence that nurses are really dying for the 12 hour shift. They keep asking when?” Management was not as easily persuaded that moving nurses to a 12-hour shift would fix the patient care, staffing, and retention problems at the hospital. They sited understaffing as one of the main reasons they could not implement a 12-hour shift. So Coney Island nurses started with a petition for safe staffing that was signed by over 400 nurses and presented in a Labor Management meeting. They addressed safe staffing at Nurse Practice Committees, and Joint Labor Management meetings. They increased the number of POAs filled out on the units, and demanded information about vacancy per unit from management.

First the challenges: in the last few years, Coney Island Hospital’s nurse retention rate went from one of the highest retention rates in the NYC H+H system, to one of the lowest. Last year, approximately 250 nurses left the hospital. Shortages in staff and supplies became rampant, the eight-hour shift was diminishing patient care and nursing practice, the administration, or “mismanagement” as one nurse calls them, began plugging holes in the schedule by forcing comp time and unpaid overtime, and having head nurses work out of title with supervisory duties. New technology was introduced, and nurses were expected to complete training meant for a 12-hour shift in eight hours. The

Management began moving on nurses’ demand, but slowly, so the Coney Island nurses stepped up their campaign. Nurse leaders were fired up. Joanne


A Newsletter for NYSNA RNs at NYC Health + Hospitals


Saint-Vil, RN, a Medical-Surgical nurse and NYSNA Delegate explained, “The 12-hour shift will fix most of the problems. The patients will be better off, and we’ll be able to breath and do the documentation.” They circulated a petition for the 12-hour shift and won a pilot program on one unit. The pilot has been incredibly successful and is helping build the case for wider use of 12-hour shifts throughout the hospital. Nurses plan to continue with the petition until the 12hour shift is implemented more widely.

nurses are also monitoring the new hires to ensure that the units that need staffing most—including the ED, MICU, SICU and T4W—are given special consideration in hiring and training. Staffing continues to be a major priority.

“If we have good staffing on the floor, nurses could get the education they need. Then we could do the patient education we should do. All shifts have different issues, even within the same unit. That’s why we need to get together, share, and organize.” —Zhanna Maksymova, RN and LBU Vice President

At the end of the year, nurses saw another breakthrough when Coney Island Hospital agreed to hire 55 new nurses. “We’re happy about the new positions, but it still doesn’t mean that we have everything fixed,” explained Stacey Viciere, RN and LBU Secretary. “We haven’t gotten all the 55 staff yet. The majority are still in training, so we haven’t all felt it yet.” As part of the NYC H+H contract, NYSNA nurses negotiated new Accountable Care Manager positions at a higher pay rate. After pressure from the facility’s nurses, Coney Island Hospital has filled 24 of these new positions. Coney Island nurses also filed a grievance on behalf of the Head Nurses working out of title, and anticipate that more Supervisors of Nursing will be hired soon. Nurses at Coney Island Hospital have accomplished a lot in a short time, and are continuing to push for improvements. “We have LPNs and CNAs who have passed the board but are not being promoted,” says Adeline Cetoute, RN, ventilator and telemetry unit and NYSNA Delegate. “We must continue to advocate and do the POAs to win more staff.” NYSNA

Coney Island Hospital nurses are looking toward the future, continuing to build solidarity throughout the facility to address their most pressing issues. In 2018, they are continuing the fight to improve staffing, win the 12-hour shift on more units, and support one another’s education and empowerment.

There is a lot of evidence that nurses are really dying for the 12 hour shift. They keep asking when?” —Ray Briggs, RN, LBU President, Coney Island Hospital



patients that because of budget cuts, can’t get into the right residential facility. We need a better system.” Collectively, nurses developed a list of immediate demands to management and a plan of action to provide a safe environment for NYSNA nurses, the rest of our union family at Jacobi, and most importantly, the patients and their families who have entrusted nurses with their care and safety. In February, nurses—with the support of NYSNA’s Executive Director, Labor Representatives and Health and Safety Representatives—sat down with management, including the Director of the Department (MD), the Workplace Violence Director, and all Nursing Management of BHS, to discuss violence prevention.

Jacobi Nurses Take Action to Prevent Violence in Behavioral Health


t’s a story that public hospital nurses know all too well: private-sector hospitals and specialized institutions have reduced their psych beds dramatically; outpatient behavioral health and social services are not meeting the current needs of New Yorkers; and as a result, public hospitals have become a catch-all for a growing number of high-need, vulnerable people with mental illness, intellectual disabilities, and behavioral health issues.

As a result of the meeting, management acknowledged the need for improvement, agreed to develop a violence prevention working group of all involved parties, and agreed to implement immediate interventions, such as post-violence counseling and debriefing. Nurses also demanded improved staffing of ancillary positions. These highly skilled behavioral health personnel are critical to maintaining a safe environment for patients and staff.

Jacobi nurses in the Behavioral Health Department were being injured far too often, so they came together to demand changes in how their hospital management deals with this patient population. In January, a patient with a history of violent episodes assaulted and severely injured a nurse. Behavioral Health nurses banded together in support of their colleague and demanded management address their significant safety concerns. They circulated a petition, which every nurse from inpatient, detox, and CPEP signed in solidarity.

Nurses plan to remain vigilant and file POAs for every incident of potential violence, as the necessary changes are implemented. Patient safety—and nurse safety—is our ongoing priority. Added Walker, RN, “If we stick together, I feel we will win! Nurses need to come out and support what we’re trying to do—don’t be afraid. There is power in numbers!”

“It’s ridiculous—people are getting hurt,” said Yvonne Walker, RN, in CPEP. “In psych, we have long-term


A Newsletter for NYSNA RNs at NYC Health + Hospitals


Watch our new video about the incredible murals at Harlem Hospital: harlemmurals

Black History Month “Lunch and Learn” Series

Save the date for upcoming “lunch and learns,” including Women’s History Month meetings in March:


s part of NYSNA’s celebration of African American History, we are hosting a series of “lunch and learn” meetings at different hospitals around the city. Last Wednesday at Elmhurst Hospital Center, we had a powerful meeting, with dozens of nurses in attendance. State Senator Jose Peralta even dropped by! Nurses at Queens Hospital Center also participated last week, watching a presentation and engaging in a discussion about the history of the labor and civil right movements, the critical role of black nurses in our healthcare system, and remembering Dr. King’s assassination and the struggle of the Memphis sanitation workers.


February 27, North Central Bronx

February 28, Jacobi

March 14, Kings County

March 15, Coney Island

March 21, Metropolitan

Local City Council Member, Rafael Salamanca, who has also been a patient at Lincoln, joined Lincoln Hospital nurses at their lunch and learn on February 21. LBU Vice President Sonia Lawrence, RN, said, “I’m glad nurses came down for this. We don’t have enough opportunities to all get together and talk about big picture issues. I definitely learned things I didn’t know and found it very helpful.”

Use Your Perks at Work to See Black Panther! The highly anticipated Black Panther is now in theaters. NYC Health + Hospitals Perks at Work members get up to 30% off movie tickets!



(For more information or to register, ask your NYSNA Rep, contact info below)












February 24, Manhattan February 25, Manhattan February 27 & 28, NYSNA NYC Office March 6, NYSNA NYC Office March 8 & 9, NYSNA NYC Office March 13, Bellevue Hospital March 14, Albany March 22 & 23, NYSNA NYC Office April 23, Albany May 8, Albany June 5, Albany

NYC H+H & MAYORAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL CHAIRS • Naomi Greene, Administration for Children’s Services • Todd Schultz, Bellevue Hospital Center • Jovana Woodley, Coler Specialty Hospital & Nursing Facility • Ray Briggs, Coney Island Hospital • Audrey Morgan, Correctional Health Services • Florence Exinor, Cumberland D & T Center • Keysha Morris, Department of Correction • Theresa Minarik, Department of Sanitation • Patricia Morris, Dr. Susan Smith McKinney Nursing & Rehab Ctr • Deborah Gatson, East NY D & T Center • Pauline Williams, Elmhurst Hospital Center • James Ambery, Fire Department • Kittie McGee, Harlem Hospital Center • Grace Lee, Gouverneur Healthcare Services • Peter Pacheco, Henry J. Carter Specialty Hosp. & Nursing Facility • Rivka Elyahu, HHC Health and Home Care • Yelena Levin, Human Resources Administration • Mary Simon, Jacobi Medical Center • Curlean Duncan, Kings County Hospital Center • Marsha Wilson, Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center • Charles Mighty, Metropolitan Hospital Center • Nicole Smith Ferguson, Morrisania D & T Center • Lynne Sanderson Burgess, Police Department • Sharon Greenaway, North Central Bronx Hospital • Lindella Artman, Queens Hospital Center • Stephen Nartey, Renaissance Healthcare Network • Kimberly Yeo, Sea View Hospital Rehabilitation Center & Home • Natalie Solomon, Segundo Ruiz Belvis D&TC • Judith Cutchin, Woodhull Medical & Mental Health Center

GET ANSWERS/STAY IN TOUCH Dental benefit questions:, 877-238-6200 Prescription benefit questions:, 888-691-0130 For all other benefits:, 888-692-7671 NYSNA NYC Office:, 212 785 0157




We Are Nurses: NYC February 2018  
We Are Nurses: NYC February 2018  

We Are Nurses, We Are NYSNA, a monthly newsletter for NYSNA RNs at NYC Health + Hospitals