NEW YORK NURSE: March/April 2012
Emergency room nurses at Massena Memorial Hospital need protection. After violent incidents this winter — one involving a firearm — the RNs are worried about their safety. To bring public attention to this issue, the RNs held an informational picket in front of the North Country facility on Feb. 2. More than 50 RNs and supporters took part, including New York State Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, who expressed her support of the nurses to the local media.
In the last five years, the nurses at Massena have observed that the number of high-risk patients they care for has risen dramatically.
They’ve been trying since September to address workplace violence in their contract negotiations. The nurses note that other hospitals in the area have made improvements in employee safety — including one that hired a security specialist. Yet Massena management hasn’t done enough to promote staff and patient safety.
The nurses say it’s not enough for the hospital to install more monitors and a panic button, and lock down the emergency room overnight. Nurses say the hospital needs to commit — in writing, in their contract — to ensuring adequate staff in the ER with the skills to handle patients who may compromise other patients’ and employees’ safety.
The most recent, four-year contract for the 90 RNs expired on Dec. 31, 2011.