Due to continued concerns about staffing and funding, nurses, public officials and citizens alike crowded the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Tuesday morning, Feb. 5, to begin their campaign for a renewed effort to fix a broken system for public hospital nurses of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation.
Vinny Alvarez, the first Latino president elected to the New York City Central Labor Council, spoke volumes about his advocacy for the newly proposed contract that demands safe staffing and fair funding.
“The working people of New York City need a working health care system, it is an absolute imperative,” said Alvarez. “We know how many New Yorkers our nurses serve and how many more additional patients they will serve each year. We also need to recognize some of the exceptional challenges that they all face.”
One in five New Yorkers are served through New York’s public health care system. When Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York, implements his care program, nearly 10,000 nurses will care for an additional 600,000 patients a year.
“My entire family was born in New York and my grandfather worked in the health care system, so here I am proudly serving a community in need,” said Alyzia McMyers, a nursing supervisor at NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation. “This is a critical time in our city as we work to close the gap in the disparities of life. That is why we talk about social determinative health, the environment and other economical social conditions. We see that not everybody has access to appropriate health care services and a public hospital that needs strengthening.”
McMyers and many other nurses were very vocal in their efforts to convey the significance of the new contract to the public. In a rapidly growing industry, the number of patients may outnumber those who can serve them, so contract negotiations play an integral role in finding a solution.
De Blasio’s health plan is to get uninsured people of the city much needed health care. The issue at hand is one that continues to gain steam, due to the mass numbers that will come into medical hallways in the coming years.
“What could be more important than health care equality?” asked Javan Whitley, a nurse who has worked in the public hospital system for a decade. “Understaffing in public system is severe, I know this from my own experience and the other registered assistants. We are united in our fight for patients and the communities we serve.”
Organizers say that while there can never be an easy fix to a broken system, the rally offers a lot of optimism to both public nurses and New Yorkers who rely on the public health system.