CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Dozens of Catholic Health nurses held a candle light vigil in protest at Sisters of Charity Hospital on Harlem Road in Cheektowaga.
The nurses were there to make a statement about safe staffing and the growing problem of short staffing and how it impacts patient care.
Their slogan for the day was “Safe Staffing Saves Lives”.
Following a half-hour silent vigil, the nurses read Safe Staffing incident reports that were given to Catholic Health administrators to document the problem.
“Three years ago Catholic Health promised to resolve the shortage of nurses in exchange for flexibility in overtime pay. Now the staffing crisis is worse than ever,” declared Heather Lawrence, RN a nurse who works in St. Joseph’s 5 South nursing unit. “Staff shortages stress our nurses and force hospital administrators to transfer nurses to work in specialties where they lack training,” she stated.
The nurses were joined by local politicians who passed a safe staffing resolution by the Town Boards of Cheektowaga and Amherst.
“Since Catholic Health refuses to address the safe staffing issue in contract negotiations, we are forced to seek a legislative solution,” stated CWA Local 1168 President Cori Gambini, RN.
Catholic Health had a response to the event, saying they remain committed to working with the Communication Workers of America on staffing related matters.
“We’ve presented a new staffing proposal, which includes provisions for the hospital and union to work collaboratively to address staffing concerns,” said Mary Dillon, Vice President of Patient Care Services at Sisters Hospital and its St. Joseph Campus. “As the union knows, hospital staffing is a complex issue affected by a number of factors, including fluctuations in patient volume, a shortage of qualified specialty care nurses and union-imposed provisions in our current contract.”