For Immediate Release
Contact: Mark Genovese, 518.782.9400, ext. 353
MASSENA, Dec. 6, 2011 - Emergency room nurses at Massena Memorial Hospital need protection. After violent incidents in recent weeks at the hospital involving firearms, the RNs are worried about their safety – and rightfully so.
The RNs have been trying since September to address workplace violence in their contract negotiations, but the employer doesn’t seem concerned about nurse safety – only about the bottom line.
Although the hospital says it plans to install more monitors and another panic button, and lock down the emergency room overnight - all improvements that the nurses support - it hasn’t hired additional security to protect the unit’s employees and patients in the short-term, nor will it agree to.
Although the nurses are exercising their federally protected right to insist through contract negotiations on better security, hospital officials have taken the puzzling step of threatening to file an improper practice charge against the nurses.
Communities throughout the nation are experiencing a crisis in the delivery of mental health care, because of overcrowding in emergency psychiatric units, a lack of beds in acute-care facilities, and sufficient housing for patients in need of supervision or assistance once they are stable. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2,050 assaults and violent acts in 2009 reported by RNs requiring an average of four days away from work. Yet emergency psychiatric services continue to be underfunded or even eliminated.
The 90 RNs are represented for collective bargaining by the New York State Nurses Association. The association believes that nurses should be able to feel safe when they go to work each day and that they should not be afraid of suffering a life threatening or life altering injury.
The nurses are seeking a contract provision in which the hospital commits to ensuring adequate staff in the ER with the skill to handle patients who may compromise other patients' and employees' safety because they are high risk, or have substance abuse problems.
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.
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