Nurses in the city and across the country stood united Thursday, speaking out to make sure that their demands and concerns for a safe work place are heard.
“We’re tired of being put in situations where we have to make terrible choices because we don’t have resources,” said Kelley Cabrera, a registered nurse who works in the emergency room at Jacobi Medical Center. “We don’t have enough people, we don’t have enough equipment, we don’t have staff. That is not appropriate.”
Outside Jacobi Medical Center, Cabrera and other nurses who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic voiced their concerns that when it comes to safe work conditions, they believe their health and well-being are consistently disregarded.
“We cannot accept what the CDC is telling us,” Cabrera said, “regarding workers working while COVID positive. We know what that feels like. They did it to us two years ago, when they said we didn’t need masks and only needed bandanas. We remember what that felt like, and that is what this feels like again. It feels like we’re getting abandoned over and over again and we’re just trying to do our best.”
This call to action in the Bronx was not directly related to the nationwide day of action sponsored Thursday by National Nurses United.
NNU is the country’s largest union of registered nurses, with more than 175,000 members.
The union held a virtual press conference in which they called for the hospital industry and President Biden to protect nurses and prioritize public health.
“We can all tell the heart wrenching stories that are happening in our hospitals every day, but we need help,” said Peggy Malone, a registered nurse with the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals. “I think that the more we speak out, the more we are going to get it.”
NNU says a survey it conducted between October and December of last year found that 83% of the thousands of nurses who responded said at least half of their shifts were staffed unsafely, with 68% said they have considered leaving their position.
Nancy Hagans, the president of the New York State Nurses Association, says with nurses being advised to return to work, even when they're still testing positive for COVID-19, it's important to remember the concepts of "health" and "care" before profits.
“Our patients are the VIPS,” Hagans said. “We need to put patients over profit. What we see here is all about money. It’s all about profit. It’s time we care for our communities.”