The New York State Nurses Association held a rally at the state fairgrounds yesterday to launch their “Protect Quality Patient Care for Central New Yorkers” campaign. Many upstate medical centers and health department nurses are in the early stages of negotiating new contracts with hospital management. Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, the president of the union, came out to the event and said they are pushing for an increase in nurse staffing and community input for care.
"Having a voice in how care gets delivered, we're at computers we're on phones, we're doing things for reimbursement, not for care," Sheridan-Gonzalez said. "We want to be able to be with our patients, take care of our patients, develop that intimate relationship that we have with our patients, that makes all the difference in the world."
Sheridan-Gonzalez said she wants to replicate the successful contract negotiations they made in New York City and Schenectady to upstate hospitals and the Onondaga and Cayuga County health departments.
Patricia Kuhn is a board member of the union for the central region and said their focus is to spend more time at patients' bedsides providing care.
"Learning how they're coping with their diseases, learning how they're coping with their current illness if it's a new one, and if you reach all of those areas you'll have better success," Kuhn said. "It's just not about throwing the meds to the patients and then documenting it. We want to be with the patients to see their success."
Some other upstate centers where nurses are negotiating new contracts include St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica, Oneida Healthcare Center and the Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown. With 37,000 members statewide, the New York State Nurses Association is the largest union for registered nurses in the state.