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Nurse strike in New York City ends with agreement to improve staffing and patient care

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A strike by 7,000 nurses at two private hospitals in New York City has ended after the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) reached tentative agreements with Mount Sinai Health System and Montefiore Health System. The nurses had been striking for three days, arguing that staffing shortages were causing widespread burnout and affecting patient care, according to CNN.

The agreements reached will provide enforceable “safe staffing ratios” for all inpatient units at the two hospitals, ensuring that there will always be enough nurses at the bedside to provide safe patient care. Montefiore has agreed to financial penalties for failing to comply with the agreed-upon staffing levels. The agreements also include 170 new nursing positions, a 19% pay increase over three years, lifetime health coverage for eligible retirees and adding more nurses in the emergency department.

Montefiore said that the agreement also includes all surgeries, procedures and outpatient appointments for Thursday and after will proceed as scheduled. The nurses will vote to approve the agreements before they are finalized.

The striking nurses had said that they were working long hours in unsafe conditions without enough pay – a concern echoed by nurses in other strikes across the country over the past year. They said the hours and the stress of having too many patients to care for is driving away nurses and creating a worsening crisis in staffing and patient care.

The hospitals had stayed open during the strike, using higher-cost temporary nursing services to provide care, and transferring other employees to take care of non-medical nursing duties. They had also diverted and transferred some patients to other hospitals and postponed some elective procedures.

Mount Sinai called the agreement “fair and responsible” while Montefiore said that they were committed to coming to a resolution as soon as possible to minimize disruption to patient care. The NYSNA said that the tentative agreements will help put more nurses to work and allow patients to receive better care, noting that the victory means safer care for patients and more sustainable jobs for the nursing profession.

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