New York City’s nurses have taken to the streets to bring attention to staffing shortages in the city’s hospitals. According to a November 17 report by NBC New York, at least 100 nurses gathered at New York-Presbyterian Hospital earlier this month to highlight hospital staffing shortages that have led to “long hours and the inability to take care of their patient load.”
The shortages have reportedly led to taxing working conditions for the city’s nurses, with patient-to-nurse ratios of 30 to 1 in some hospitals, according to a report by the New York Daily News. “We took an oath in nursing school that we were going to do what’s right for patients,” one emergency nurse told NBC. “[…] We can’t do what’s right because there is not enough of us to do what’s right.”
New York-Presbyterian, Mount Sinai Hospital, and Montefiore Medical Center “are among the most severely overburdened” hospitals, according to the Daily news. One nurse argued in that report that while circumstances may be dire, they were also foreseeable before the pandemic, as hospitals were likely aware they would see high retirements from 2020 to 2025 as baby boomers leave the workforce.
Nurses suggest that staffing shortages give rise to “a vicious cycle” in which the onerous working conditions created by shortages cause more nurses to leave the workforce, causing starker shortages, according to the Daily News. And at the end of the day, it’s patients who suffer most. “The poor patient that’s left behind with the injury is victimized,” one nurse told the Daily News.
A new law setting certain staffing mandates for hospitals and nursing homes in New York will take effect in January 2022, but some nurses say that it still won’t resolve the staffing issues, according to the Daily News. A nursing industry lobbyist told the publication that even though the law will allow nurses to work with hospital management to set staffing plans, they won’t become legally enforceable until 2023—meaning that understaffing will likely remain a problem for at least another year yet.