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Monte battles hallway bed charges

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Montefiore Medical Center continued warring with its nurse’s union over charges they are overworked, while patients are being stacked up in hallways waiting for rooms.

Coming on the heals of a protest outside of its Moses division over the conditions, a Montefiore spokeswoman responded that putting patients in hallways while awaiting available rooms is fairly common at hospitals across the nation.

“Patient care and safety are our top priorities,” said hospital spokeswoman Helene Guss. “On occasion, new patients are given hallway bed assignments as we discharge recovering patients and prepare rooms. All patients receive medical care and nursing attention appropriate to their conditions regardless of their location.”

But New York State Nurses Association members contested her remarks.

The union staged a protest Oct. 30 citing “assembly-line” conditions and being overburdened by having to care for as many as 17 patients at once.

It countered that “hall assignments” are not common practice at many metropolitan area hospitals, or others across the nation.

Karine Raymond, NYSNA president at Monte’s Weiler Division in Morris Park, said it has seen a “steady climb” in patients given hallway assignments since Monte took over nearby Westchester Square Medical Center and converted it from a full-service hospital to an emergency care and outpatient facility.

Critics charge that Montefiore’s dominance of the borough’s healthcare marketplace may make it less responsive to patient needs. The issue of hallway assignments is also long-standing.

“The practice of placing multiple patients in the hallways on a unit has existed for over 10 years, and for more than 10 years they have chosen not to solve the problem,” charged NYSNA nurse representative Christine LaPerche. “Solving the problem would come at a cost to them.”

LaPerche noted that “Unfortunat­ely many of their patients are the poor and underprivileged of the Bronx and can not advocate for themselves. These patients will keep coming no matter how they are treated. Montefiore takes advantage of this knowing they are the only health care system in the Bronx.”

NYSNA leaders said that compared to other regional hospital systems, Montefiore has many more patients with hallway assignments than typically found elsewhere.

“I have worked in hospitals across the U.S. for 12 years - in recent years in California, Nevada, Texas, Florida and New York State,” said Chito Quijano, NYSNA director for the Manhattan-Bronx-Westchester region, “and nowhere are hallway patients the norm, the practice or in any way prevalent, except in Montefiore and a few other hospitals in New York City.

Nella Marcon-Pineda, a NYSNA member at Mt Sinai Hospital in Manhattan who has worked as an RN for 24 years, said “I do not see hallway patients, nor do I hear about their presence in hospitals in our area, except in very few instances, on a temporary basis. Montefiore would be the exception.”

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