NEW YORK NURSE: March 2010
by Randi Hoffman
On Jan. 28, more than 400 NYSNA nurses rallied outside St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan when they heard negotiations were underway for the hospital to be sold to Continuum Health Partners. Continuum was planning to shut down the hospital’s acute care, emergency, and surgical units. Representatives of NYSNA District 13 and 1199SEIU offered their support, and City Council President Christine Quinn and Borough President Scott Stringer spoke to the crowd. About 900 RNs currently work at St. Vincent’s.
St. Vincent’s is the only major hospital on the lower west side of Manhattan, serving Greenwich Village, Chelsea, Tribeca, and other surrounding neighborhoods.
NYSNA nurses met with Governor Paterson’s office and other government officials. Then it joined with the New York Professional Nurses Union and the National Federation of Nurses to place a half-page advertisement in the Feb. 3 edition of the New York Times, urging Governor Paterson and State Health Commissioner Richard Daines to keep St. Vincent’s open and intact.
Continuum backed out, but the hospital’s financial problems continue. St. Vincent’s is $700 million in debt and has been struggling financially for years. Then 300 employees were let go. None were NYSNA nurses. In a gesture of goodwill, NYSNA nurses, along with health care workers from 1199SEIU, agreed to take a 10% temporary wage reduction to help stabilize the hospital’s finances. St. Vincent’s executives had taken pay cuts of 20% to 25%.
“A reduction in wages is admittedly difficult for any working family,” said Lorraine Seidel, NYSNA’s Economic and General Welfare program director. “In this case, NYSNA members found this decision to be a necessary one in order to save the life of the institution. NYSNA is doing all it can to keep St. Vincent’s open, considering the loss to the community if it closes, and the real fact that hospitals are hiring fewer nurses.”