NY Pinoy nurses demand safer workplaces

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau
After a nurse was assaulted by a patient a week ago, health care workers at The Allen Pavilion Hospital held a vigil to pray for safety in the work place.

The victim, Michael Berkowitz, said, “This happens all the time and with nurses”.

“Yung pasyente, bagong dating medyo naging impatient. Bigla na lang lumapit sinuntok yung co-worker ko na who is a nurse. He fell down on the ground when that happened,” said Filipino emergency room nurse Ernest Uy.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ranks healthcare institutions among the most dangerous places to work.

According to the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), two out of 10 work place injuries happen to healthcare workers.

Healthcare workers suffer 50 percent of all assaults.

“Because of the conditions, so many patients are forced to endure long waits, overcrowding, the inadequate staffing that we’re subjected to that kind of foments or exacerbates violent behavior. Very often we’re subjected to verbal violence as well,” NYSNA President Judy Sheridan Gonzales said.

The Allen Pavilion Hospital at the Bronx employs about a thousand Filipino nurses.

“We are nurses because we want to care for our patients. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough hands. We don’t have enough bodies to do it,” NYSNA’s Anneberyl Corotan Naguit said.

For example, intensive care units should ideally provide a one nurse to one patient ratio. A floor nurse ideally has a 1 to 4 ratio, but this is not always the case.

ICU nurse Nina Politan said, “We’re actually 1 is to 2, kasi understaffed. Wala masyado staffing, so we’re always tired. But we give the best quality of care.”

Operating room nurse Emily Ignacio said, “If we have not enough staff, of course work will be slow. Long waiting for the patient and that causes the anxiety. They get angry and they will assault you.”

NYSNA –a union with 20,000 member nurses– wants the public to know that assaulting a health care worker is a felony in the state of New York.

The union is also demanding healthcare facilities to improve working conditions by providing adequate staffing.

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