NEW YORK NURSE: October 2013
There’s no time to hang back and rest on our recent progress. We stopped the full-on assault on healthcare in 2013. But we have not won — yet. This year we’re upping our ante in every fight and pushing even harder to bring home a safe staffing law and strong contracts, and to keep Wall Street out of healthcare in New York for good. Here, NYSNA board members share their thoughts on what success will take.
“We won support for the safe staffing bill during the last legislative session in Albany (86 Assembly members and 23 Senators) but we didn’t have enough momentum to stop hospital opposition and get out of committee.
“We’re not giving up; we’re just getting stronger. We’ll be out in bigger force than the hospitals this year, uniting with community groups and pressing politicians to do the right thing.
“Hospital executives made a mighty effort to stop us. Wall Street has money, but we have our hearts and nurse power and community support on our side. We can’t afford as a society to have anything but safe staffing. Patients are people who deserve care. They’re not dollar signs.”
– Carol Ann Lemon, RN, Ellis Hospital, NYSNA Central Regional Director
“Winning the contracts nurses deserve depends on our actions.
“In politics, we need to elect our candidates in November. But Election Day is just a start. We have to hold politicians accountable and make sure they defend healthcare and negotiate with us.
“We need to keep building a coalition of patient groups and community groups. We need to keep raising awareness about the threats to quality healthcare and showing that our efforts together make a difference.
“And we need to empower NYSNA members. Everyone needs to be involved in moving our cause forward. Demonstrate. Lobby. Talk to neighbors and your congregation. New Yorkers need to hear from us. And we need to send a message: we’re unified in large numbers.
“I’m definitely expecting a new day in New York. Something great is happening, and we are helping to make it happen.”
– Verginia Stewart, RN, Metropolitan Hospital, NYSNA Director at Large
“The idea that profit would be more important than care is innately abhorrent to nurses. So when it came out that Wall Street was trying to weaken the Certificate of Need process as prep for bringing for-profits into healthcare in New York, we mobilized.
“We surprised people in Albany. We were fired up, chanting in the hallways, practically having a rally. But it was important to make a public issue out of this. We’re not playing nice anymore. And it worked. We beat three tries to let Wall Street take over our hospitals.
“Wall Street will be back. And we’ll need all hands on deck: building our base, working closely with community groups. People need to know that another way is possible. We don’t have to accept big business in healthcare – and we won’t.
“At first, keeping LICH open seemed like a noble fight, but impossible to win. It’s incredible what we accomplished. We can do that with Wall Street too.”
– Patricia Kane, RN, Staten Island University Hospital, NYSNA Treasurer