NEW YORK NURSE: September 2013
By Patricia DiLillo, RN, NYSNA President
New York healthcare is in crisis.
Hospitals are closing units and some are even shutting their doors. Hospital administrators are forcing nurses to take on too many patients at once. In some hospitals, it’s getting to be a common sight to see patients waiting on gurneys for hours and hours – sometimes days and days.
All of these problems have one root cause: the people running our healthcare system want to run hospitals as a business.
Hospital administrators are creating healthcare empires that are nonprofit in name only. Hospitals are locked into a technological arms race to buy the most expensive equipment and offer the most expensive procedures. And they are trying to eliminate care for “unprofitable” patients – like trauma victims or kids with asthma.
Just look at what’s happening at St. Luke’s.
Insurance companies have been making big profits for years. Now they are trying to use the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act to market inferior healthcare plans that don’t even include hospitalization!
New York State still doesn’t allow for-profit companies to run our hospitals. But Wall Street and out-of-state for-profit healthcare chains are knocking at the door.
Healthcare can be very profitable – but only at the expense of patient care.
Every New Yorker deserves access to healthcare – with safe RN staffing – where they live, whether or not they can pay, whether or not someone can make a profit off of their care.
This is what NYSNA is all about. It’s our mission as a union and our mission as patient advocates to make sure every New Yorker has access to the care they need.
That’s why we fight for safe staffing. That’s why we fight to keep hospitals open in medically underserved communities. That’s why we fight to defend our public hospitals. That’s why we fight for a single payer system.
When I was elected president two years ago, NYSNA’s old rules prevented me and our other elected leaders from having any say over our union’s work. Thousands of us came together on May 17, 2012 and changed those rules. We made NYSNA a democratic union – and we have used our union to launch a powerful movement for healthcare for all.
But NYSNA is a work in progress. We have been held back by a union structure that divides our efforts. Here’s just one example: our critical work to protect nursing practice is divided into SIX different committees!
We are up against big companies with big bank accounts. If we are going to win healthcare for all and safe staffing, we have to bring together every resource we have. We can’t be divided.
Our Board of Directors has reviewed our bylaws – the constitution of our union – and suggested some simple and straightforward changes to them that will make NYSNA more united and more democratic.
Every NYSNA member will have the chance to vote on these changes at our convention, Oct. 16-18 in New York City.
In this special preconvention issue of New York Nurse, our executive director, Jill Furillo, RN, gives an in-depth look at the forces behind the current crisis in patient care in New York, the challenges we face, and we lay out our agenda for 2014 and explain the bylaws changes we’ll be voting on at the NYSNA Convention.
Keep reading to find out what’s at stake – and how we can make a difference.