For the past seven years, Shirley Escala walked in to work as scheduled at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx — until this week’s nursing strike kept her on the sidewalk.
Thursday marked her return to work after the union reached a tentative deal with the hospital.
“It feels good. I miss my patients,” Escala said. “It was really really good to get back, and it was good to see my colleagues and the other staff who were here.”
What You Need To Know
- The strike began Monday, but tentative agreements were made early Thursday morning
- The New York State Nursing Association, a union representing more than 42,000 nurses, said both hospitals needed to come to the table with better nurse to patient ratios, better pay and health insurance
- The tentative agreements at Montefiore include a wage increase, new nursing positions and fully funded health care for nurses
- "Us going out on strike gets upper management to listen to what's the right thing in order to give good patient care," said one Montefiore nurse
For the last three days, Escala stood alongside more than 7,000 nurses on the picket line at both Montefiore and Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan demanding a better contract.
The New York State Nursing Association, a union representing over 42,000 nurses, said both hospitals needed to come to the table with better nurse to patient ratios, better pay & health insurance. The strike began Monday and tentative agreements were made early Thursday morning.
“It was frustrating and scary a little bit, but I have to say the one thing that was a really empowering feeling to know that solidarity and being able to stand your ground makes all the difference in the world,” Escala said. “It’s such a big thing to know what’s right for a patient and to speak your truth and to not have people listen, but us going out on strike gets upper management to listen to what’s the right thing in order to give good patient care.”
Escala says she’s seen a decrease in staff since the pandemic, making it difficult for nurses to keep up with the demand.
“You go home at night feeling like, ‘Oh my god, I didn’t, I should have done this. I should have done this.’ There’s things that get delayed. There’s delays in meds, delays and treatments,” the nurse said. “I work in oncology so you could even have delays in chemotherapy as everything gets delayed because you’re short staffed because you’re being overburdened with a ridiculous number of patients.”
The tentative agreements at Montefiore include a wage increase, new nursing positions and fully funded healthcare for nurses. Escala says this is not just a win for the nurses but a win for all those they care for.
“Physicians bring the hospitals in, but the actual physical care and the treatments and things that are being ordered were the ones who are doing it, and we help patients to get better,” Escala said.