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Union says Methodist is a few nurses shy of a load

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The nurses at New York Methodist Hospital are understaffed and overworked because administrators are violating a contractual obligation to provide enough medical workers, the state’s largest nurses union alleged this week.

The New York State Nurses Association said that the administration of the venerable hospital on Seventh Avenue in Park Slope is required to have at least one nurse for every six patients — but nurses claim that the hospital is actually providing only one RN for every 14 customers in some wings.

“When hospital management short-staffs a unit, it puts the patients at risk and creates difficult working conditions for the staff left to carry the extra patient load,” said union rep Elaine Charpentier. “Meanwhile, the hospital saves money on the salaries of the missing nurses.”

That said, the hospital brass says it is not in breach of the contract.

“Our data shows we’re in compliance with the contractual guidelines,” said Lyn Hill, a spokeswoman for New York Methodist, who suggested that the union is miscalculating the staffing levels.

She added that the nurses union is simply “using the press” to ratchet up the debate as new contract negotiations come to a head this fall.

Hill said that the average salary for nurses at the hospital is $85,000.

This isn’t the first time that the issue of understaffing at New York Methodist has reared its head. Last year, nurses complained that the nurse-to-patient ratio had gotten to one-to-10.

Updated 4:27 pm, October 12, 2010: Includes new information from Methodist.
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Reader Feedback

David from Park Slope says:
The hospital seems to be basing its "in compliance" numbers on specious averages. What I do know is that my wife is a nurse at Methodist and she almost never has 6 patients. Unless she luckily gets a few discharges in one day, she usually has closer to 10 patients. She constantly points out how dangerous she feels the situation is at the hospital--not to mention how stressful and exhausting it is for nurses trying to keep patients alive despite not having taken a break in, say, 10 hours. Truly scary.
Oct. 6, 2010, 11:07 am
Jeanne from PLG says:
When I was recovering from giving birth to my son at NY Methodist the nurses were so scarce we would go hours without anyone checking on me and most of the time my husband would have to leave the room to go searching for a nurse because nobody came when I rang the bell to call a nurse. When we did get a nurse she'd be woefully unhelpful because she was so harried and annoyed. Once while pregnant when we had to go to the ER, there weren't any nurses at all in triage at the ER. We sat for a half hour, this is a pregnant woman needing immediate attention mind you, without anybody even taking my name or asking me what was wrong. This hospital is without question understaffed and it should be investigated.
Oct. 13, 2010, 1:55 pm
Annie from Park Slope says:
NYM recently terminated a large amount of their per diem staff despite being short staffed. They rely on travel nurses to fill the void which is almost as costly as hiring a full time nurse. They constantly float people from various areas of the hospital to fill voids, your nurse may be pulled 5 hours into their shift to cover another area. is that safe? Absolutely not! The labor and delivery unit is very understaffed, the Neonatal ICU is over capacity and is understaffed with their medical staff as well as nursing staff. Rebecca Flood, her puppets and Mark Mundy have destroyed what was once a nice place to work
Oct. 13, 2010, 5:49 pm
Anne-Marie from Park-Slope says:
Keeping this hospital bursting @ the seams with patients is this 'pretty" hospital's goal in life. That and co-ordinating wall paper with tiles. The goals of patient care and safety are at the bottom of their list. Right above poor staffing, respecting and retaining their overworked nurses as well as overhauling the entire administrative staff. If the economy was not as bad as it is now , many of their nurses would leave to pursue positions in other hospitals.
Oct. 14, 2010, 10:57 am

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