NEW YORK NURSE: October 2012
Imagine you had to drive 40 miles to the nearest emergency room.
That’s what happened to New Yorkers in Gouverneur, when E.J. Noble Hospital shut down without warning.
Now RNs and the community are coming together to get the hospital back on its feet.The New York State Department of Health suddenly suspended operations at E.J. Noble on Sept. 28 – after it found numerous violations related to its lab.
E.J. Noble is the only area hospital for nearly 40 miles. As a result, most of the hospital’s patients were transferred to facilities nearly an hour away.
RNs immediately spoke up to save a good hospital in their North Country community.
As we go to press, E.J. Noble announced after a stressful week that it had reached an agreement with Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown to handle its laboratory services.
“Samaritan stepping in is exactly the kind of change E.J. Noble needs to prevent the same mistakes from happening again and ensuring stability of the hospital in the long-term,” said E.J. Noble RN Michelle Denault.
To help ease the burden, NYSNA representatives fought to make sure E.J. Noble management complied with the layoff provisions of the RNs’ contract. Because the RNs weren’t given the required seven-day notice, they were entitled to a payment for the scheduled time they lost. RNs received a letter from management on Oct. 3 that they would receive the funds in their next paycheck.
Yet RNs remain concerned about the long-term viability of the hospital if it waits too long to open. The RNs say it’s crucial that E.J. Noble management make plans to put the facility back into operation as soon as possible because of the urgent community need. With the hospital sitting vacant, the RNs have been reaching out to local elected officials and to the community to ask for their support.
Because of its location, the U.S. government classified E.J. Noble as a “sole community provider.”
Nurses are proud of the comprehensive, safe patient care they’ve provided for the community for many years, and that this will continue once the hospital reopens.
“We just want the hospital to get back on track, for the patients, for the employees, and for the community,” said E.J. Noble RN Ellen Meilleur. “We have to move forward now, in a positive way. It WILL work if we can get past these last few weeks and make a difference.”