An Open Letter to NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg
16 November 2012
To Mayor Michael Bloomberg,
New York’s healthcare crisis is still unfolding – and likely to get worse. The response from city, state, and federal officials falls short of meeting the needs of New Yorkers. Urgent action and greater coordination are needed to help thousands of people in desperate need.
We write to you today on behalf of 37,000 nurses in New York State, to tell you our grave concerns, and to ask you to work with us to take care of New York’s most vulnerable.
- The storm badly damaged NYC’s healthcare system, and there is currently no Level One Trauma Center below 57th Street in Manhattan. The evacuation of Bellevue, NYU Langone, and Coney Island Hospitals has left some of our city’s most vulnerable patients forced to look elsewhere for care. Our city is short more than 2,000 hospital beds. We need our city and state officials to do everything in their power to re-open the hospitals as soon as possible.
- Other hospitals have received a huge influx of patients, and nurses on some units are working without proper staffing or training. All hospitals need to provide adequate staffing and training to deal with the influx of patients. Our city officials need to make a real plan to deal with the closing of St. Vincent’s Hospital in 2010.
- Thousands of New Yorkers – in Staten Island, the Rockaways, Coney Island, and beyond – are still stuck in their homes with urgent, and unattended, medical needs. Many of these people will get worse the longer they go unattended. Children and seniors are especially in need of attention. Their access to medication and medical devices is severely limited.
- Cleanup crews are facing new dangers from accidents, electrocution, chemical hazards, molds, and more. We need to educate clean-up crews and provide them with appropriate breathing protection, other safety equipment, and follow-up medical examinations.
- New York needs a stronger public health nurse infrastructure. The chipping away of a public health nurse infrastructure over the years is partly to blame for the lack of a coordinated rapid response to this disaster.
- We need the Mayor’s office to play a stronger role coordinating relief efforts. The Mayor’s office need to coordinate a systematic, door-by-door assessment of every person in the affected area, and make sure that people who need medical attention or medication get care. We were glad to see the Mayor’s office playing a leading role in Staten Island and yesterday in Red Hook. They need to do the same in Coney Island and in the Rockaways, where the situation is very chaotic.
New York nurses are ready, willing, and able to join teams from the Mayor’s office to provide medical care in the field. Hundreds of nurses from the New York State Nurses Association – and across the country – have already been going door-to-door in the affected areas.
As nurses and advocates we commit to do our part, but the Mayor’s office can increase the assistance available by requesting and directing further resources to meet the needs of our communities. We ask that you do so.
Patricia DiLillo, RN
President, New York State Nurses Association
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The New York State Nurses Association is the voice for nursing in the Empire State. With more than 37,000 members, it is New York’s largest professional association and union for registered nurses. The association represents registered nurses, and some all-professional bargaining units, in New York and New Jersey. It supports nurses and nursing practice through education, research, legislative advocacy, and collective bargaining.