Nyack Nurse Anna Marie Perkins: “Hospitals Need to Do Better”

When approximately 100 nurses gathered on Tuesday, December 19 in front of Monte- fiore Nyack Hospital to voice their support to authorize a strike at Montefiore Nyack, New Rochelle and Mount Vernon Hospitals, labor and delivery nurse Anna Marie Perkins was at the head of the charge.

As president of the New York State Nurses Association bargaining unit for Montefiore Nyack, Perkins leads a committee of six other nurses (with the help of a NYSNA rep) that met with hospital management to negotiate changes to the facility’s working conditions. A nurse since 1985, she is among the 96% of nurses from the three Lower Hudson Valley hospitals who have authorized a strike if calls for safe staffing with strong accountability for patient safety and respectful, competitive wages are not met promptly by hospital administration. Bargaining dates between administration and the bargaining units are set between now and the end of the year, as the nurses’ contracts are set to expire December 31, 2023.

“There’s a lot of nurses that miss lunch, they miss their breaks,” Perkins said. “They lose sleep the night before work because they worry about short staffing the next day…At the end of the day, they leave defeated be- cause they weren’t able to give the care that they wanted, that the patients deserve. So the hospitals need to do better and they can do better.”

The call for fair wages not only concerns the current nurses at the Lower Hudson Valley Montefiore Hospitals, Perkins notes—it is also about recruiting new ones. With other nearby hospitals out-competing Montefiore locations, nurse vacancy rates have skyrocketed: 25% at Nyack and 20% at New Rochelle. At Mount Vernon, there’s been a 23% reduction in the workforce since 2020 due to resignations, vacancies and service reductions by Montefiore.

“We’re way behind other facilities,” Perkins explained. “Montefiore Nyack is not competitive. We’re looking for some better benefits so we can retain the nurses. Right now we are the only Montefiore facility that doesn’t have a pension, a defined benefit plan. So we’re looking to get that so we can retain the nurses. Right now, we’re like a training facility. Nurses come in, they aren’t getting the wages other places are getting, they see the working conditions and they leave. We’re hoping to get a better contract so we can recruit and retain these nurses.”

Above all, Perkins emphasizes that the ultimate goal of this call to action is to ensure patient safety.

“The nurses have decided we will do whatever it takes to protect our patients. They’re our priority, and we need to fight for them. And that’s what we’re doing.”

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