Nurse | Nick Youngson at picpedia.org
Nurses have been on strike for years now. However, the latest seem to have impacted a nation.
Hospital associations have recently come to an agreement with other nurse unions that long term solutions need to be offered in regard to annual pay and staffing. The American Nurses Association even states their “frustration with a lack of solutions.” However, they work to prioritize safety and understaffing first.
Previously, “there were 385 strikes in 2022, up 42% from 270 in 2021,” according to CNN.
“I have worked with some amazing and talented nurses and healthcare personnel,” an anonymous certified nursing assistant and Saddleback College student said. “But I can see the exhaustion and the stress in their faces that has only been deepened by the effects of the pandemic.”
In the year 2020, New York City became the epicenter for the COVID-19 pandemic, sending nurses and healthcare professionals into a spiral.
This year’s strike began on Jan. 9 when over 7,000 nurses in New York City walked off the job. This walkout happened primarily with nurses at two hospital systems, Mount Sinai Medical Center and Montefiore Medical Center, in Manhattan and in the Bronx.
Many opposers and healthcare professionals claimed that this union was “reckless” and irresponsible. They argue that without the nurses, it is the patients who suffer and no one else. This said, “nurses who walked off the job said that hospital management put patients at risk by refusing to fill growing numbers of vacant jobs,” according to The Washington Post.
Since the pandemic, nurses have been understaffed, overworked and underpaid.
“Working in healthcare, you see individuals at their worst,” said the local nursing assistant. “It is our job and our priority to ensure that each patient is getting the proper care they deserve. However, it can be extremely challenging and demanding when you are juggling patients with little to no help. Your fellow coworkers during that shift are all you have, and we help each other to the best of our abilities, but sometimes that just isn’t enough.”
As a matter of fact, nurses are so understaffed that every nurse has to take responsibility for almost double the amount of patients than they should have. In the Intensive Care Unit, many nurses would say that they are supposed to have at least one or two patients each. However, there are no legal limitations and no federal mandate for how many patients each nurse can have.
“I think a safe assignment of patients for CNAs would be about eight,” said the anonymous nursing assistant. “I, myself, had an average of about twelve patients. There was one day when I actually took on 16 patients.”
Certified Nursing Assistants do the “dirty work,” which allows them to take on more patients.
- For Registered Nurses, who have more responsibility over the patients, “generally, the nurse-to-patient ratio recommendation is one [RN] nurse to every four patients,” according to Trusted Nurse Staffing. Currently, nurses across America are juggling six to eight patients.
“How am I supposed to fulfill my duties?” asked another anonymous nurse from Mount Sinai Hospita who partook in one of the strikes. “How am I supposed to console a grieving parent when I have three other kids who need their medications?”
Though the nurses in New York continue to bargain for equitable work conditions and compensation, this act triggered a national stance.
- The American Nurses Association has responded, claiming they empathize and understand this “last resort,” according to NPR.
Nurses all across the country chose specific dates to walk-out and strike against their own hospitals with hopes of reaching a fair agreement, or at the very least, to send a message to the rest of the world. States will continue to strike, like they have in the past, until they are satisfied with a sense of fairness and justice.