Dec 22, 2023 | News Story

NYS Healthcare Workers Raise Alarms on Statewide Staffing Crisis, Demand Legislative Action to Strengthen Workforce, Patient Care in FY25 State Budget

Healthcare workers with the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) and Communications Workers of America District 1 (CWA D1), joined by other healthcare unions and labor leaders, held a rally and press conference Tuesday, calling on lawmakers to prioritize safe staffing, ahead of a crucial state legislative hearing on healthcare priorities for the FY25 state budget. At the hearing, healthcare workers from hospitals across the state shared testimony underscoring the impact that pervasive understaffing has had on worker safety and the quality of care their communities receive.

Workers from hospitals all over the state united to ensure safe staffing was top of mind for New York legislators heading into the hearing, where they’d determine the future of the state’s strained healthcare system. With patients’ lives on the line, healthcare workers urged lawmakers to prioritize proposals that support the workforce as well as hospital funding, following years of widespread recruitment and retention challenges that have left healthcare workers around the state to deal with dangerous nurse-to-patient ratios.

Workers called for robust implementation and enforcement of the 2021 Hospital Clinical Staffing Committee law and called on lawmakers to ensure full Medicaid reimbursement is included in the FY25 State Budget in addition to proposals aimed at stabilizing the existing healthcare workforce. Healthcare workers with NYSNA, CWA D1 and other unions also shared testimony highlighting the human impact and severity of the staffing crisis that’s forced frontline healthcare workers to care for too many patients at once, at the expense of patient safety.

“There is no shortage of nurses. There is a shortage of nurses that are willing to work under the conditions we are seeing in our hospitals, our nursing homes, and home care,” said NYSNA Executive Director Pat Kane. Decades of underfunding and staffing shortages across New York have plunged the state’s healthcare workforce into crisis, requiring healthcare workers to push themselves past the point of exhaustion, working mandatory overtime with skeleton crews. Meanwhile, hospitals throughout the state are having to work with negative or unsustainable operating budgets, incentivizing the further reduction of healthcare workers, exacerbating short staffing, worsening quality of care and further destabilizing the workforce. In New York state, only 53% of actively licensed nurses are actively working as nurses, demonstrating that the State is facing more of a shortage of good healthcare jobs than healthcare workers themselves. Read more here!