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Monte nurses protest conditions

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Frustrated nurses are charging a staffing crisis at Montefiore Medical Center facilities, while overflow patients are winding up placed in hallways.

The New York State Nurses Association, staged a spirited rally outside of Montefiore Moses division in Norwood on Oct. 30 to protest overcrowding throughout the sprawling healthcare system.

They charged “assembly-line conditions” are forcing them to spend more time on paperwork and less time with patients, patients being given “hallway assignments” when there are not enough rooms for beds, and concerns about veteran caregivers being forced to reapply for their jobs with a four-month probation at the new Montefiore Westchester Square (formerly Westchester Square Medical Center and no longer a full-service hospital).

The nurses used street theater when protesting on the street outside of Moses to drive the point home that safe-staffing levels were needed at all of Montefiore’s facilities.

Patients in hallways

Karine Raymond, NYSNA president at Monte’s Weiler Hospital Division in Morris Park, said that they have seen a “steady climb” in patients being given hallways assignments there since the takeover and conversion of nearby Westchester Square Medical Center into a full-service emergency department and ambulatory surgery center.

The number of days that any patients had to be given hallway assignments have increased from one or two a week before Westchester Square Medical Center closed to every day, she said.

With flu season approaching, and an expected spike in hospitalizations, she added, the situation is particularly troubling.

In recent rounds on seven floors in the Weiler division, Raymond said she found 17 patients in the hallways. Some patients are promised a room, she noted, but many never receive one, and have no chance of getting one.

“It is very heartbreaking that this is what patients in a premier hospital in America are being forced to go through,” said Raymond. “No bathroom, no sink, no toilet, no oxygen supply.”

Privacy issues

For a nurse, having any patients in the hallway is troublesome because many procedures that would normally be done in private, like putting a “foley” on a patient so that urine can be collected in bags, are being done in hallways. Even if screens are set up, people can oftentimes see into them, she said.

“There is a real problem being in a hallway,” she said, “because you have no privacy - none.”

Raymond said the best possible solutions is to increase staffing.

“Two or three nurses for 20 patients is not going to cut it,” she said, “because many nurses leave the hospital hoping that they gave every patient what they needed.”

A NYSNA spokesman did have an immediate response as to whether the union was calling on the state Department of Health to investigate the situaiton.

Montefiore did not respond for comment.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393
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