While the mayor has lifted the mask mandate in schools and other businesses, the nurses who went through the worst of the pandemic need reinforcements of the humankind.
Last Thursday, nurses at the Maimonides Medical Center held a rally on the corner of 48th Street and 10th Avenue denouncing staffing shortfalls at the facility that day. From the emergency room to ICUs to Med-Surgical floors, Psychiatric care, etc., members of the New York State Nurses Association have also battled COVID-19 variants. NYSNA President Nancy Hagans, RN, said that her constituents are being spread thin.
“As a safety net hospital, Maimonides plays a central role in the delivery of care to Brooklyn patients,” stated Hagans. “But the hospital is understaffed on virtually every unit, impeding essential care to patients. As nurses, we are entrusted by law as patient advocates. We are duty-bound to call out Maimonides management to address RN staffing by hiring more nurses, to put in place effective retention policies and put the hospital on a path to ensuring quality care for all patients.”
A hospital spokesperson from Maimonides Medical Center emailed the AmNews stating that they’ve been working as much as they can considering the times and will continue to do so knowing the current situation.
“The pandemic has presented hospital systems with a number of unprecedented challenges, including staffing. Our nurses and other health care professionals have shown an unwavering commitment to patient care, and we are indebted to them for it. As Brooklyn’s largest hospital, we have been working tirelessly to maintain top-quality patient care while addressing staff turnover and burnout. We know we’re not alone in overcoming these challenges, and we welcome the opportunity to continue working with our partners at NYSNA, 1199, and CIR to ensure optimal working conditions for our healthcare workers and the patients they care for.”
Nurses, however, noted that their colleagues have quit due to being overworked and are struggling with retention.
“We do not have enough nurses to do the job—a job that has become extremely difficult, even dangerous at times,” stated Kristen Curley, RN, Stepdown/Telemetry. “We work under a threat to patient safety.”
Holding up placards that read, “Safe staffing saves lives,” NYSNA officials, nurses and supporters lamented the lack of support they’ve received while handling the city’s sick individuals. The New York Post reported that, according to records, Maimonides’ CEO Kenneth Gibbs made $3.2 million in 2020; Jacob Shani, chief of heart surgery, made $3.5 million; Patrick Borgen, department of surgery, made $2 million; and the chair of cardiothoracic surgery, director of interventional cardiology and a cardiologist made just below $2 million dollars.
Michelle Williams, RN, Mother-Baby Unit, said that there are no breaks for her or her colleagues and it leaves them exhausted.
“With four couplets [mother and baby] I am able to provide care to both mother and baby,” stated Williams. “Unfortunately, on the night shift, I have a caseload of 6 couplets. That’s why I call the RN staffing ‘very poor’ in the unit. To care for all the mothers and babies we sometimes have to split the work. With couplets split up, I have ended up with as many as 15 babies assigned to me. This is wrong, because we run a risk of not getting all necessary care to the babies.”
Charmaine Malcolm, RN, Medical-Surgeon, said that if feels like no one is listening to them.
“The work has been soul crushing,” said Malcolm. “There has been a sense of intimidation. If you mention you’re short-staffed, you a get a look. I felt silenced.”