NEW YORK NURSE: June 2010
by Randi Hoffman
The almost 8,000 nurses working in New York City’s public hospitals for the Health and Hospital’s Corporation (HHC) breathed a sigh of relief when they found out on May 11 that the jobs of registered nurses would not be cut in this initial phase of the restructuring plan. NYSNA had aggressively opposed the restructuring.
HHC had hired Deloitte Consulting, a multinational corporation, to find ways to streamline function in a harsh economic climate. Deloitte came up with a plan called “The Road Ahead” stressing “doing more with less,” and this included registered nurses.
However, on May 11, HHC President Alan Aviles announced at a press conference that he was rejecting Deloitte’s suggestions to close one-third of all community-based health centers, and eliminate outpatient specialty services and most long-term care beds.
“This is a very positive thing. I would like to believe that HHC sees the value and importance of nurses,” said a Brooklyn HHC member. “I hope this is forward thinking on their part. Nurses are the front line. HHC hospitals serve everybody, and with St. Vincent’s just closed, more people will be showing up at our doors.”
However, HHC did decide to eliminate six clinics that employ six registered nurses working in child health care at Glebe, Wyckoff, Fifth Avenue, Howard House, Astoria, and a dental clinic in Williamsburg. These NYSNA RNs have been offered positions at other HHC facilities.
Unfortunately, the building trade workers are not as lucky as the nurses. Plumbers, electricians, painters and carpenters are facing 500 layoffs immediately. This will cause the HHC physical plant to deteriorate. Over the next year, dialysis will be privatized, skilled nursing facility beds will be reduced and prison services will be consolidated to Metropolitan Hospital Center.
While the nurses have escaped this round of cuts relatively unscathed, NYSNA nurses must remain vigilant and strong and ready to respond to anything in the future that will impact their ability to deliver safe patient care.
NYSNA continues to negotiate for city nurses the same salary increases as the other municipal unions. This will bring the city nurses a fair wage increase and help restore their benefits to previous levels. This is consistent with what the HHC administrators themselves have received.