PLATTSBURGH — Dozens of nurses and other health-care professionals lined sidewalks along Cornelia Street on Thursday afternoon expressing concern about staffing levels at CVPH Medical Center.
A vibrant rhythm of plastic noise clappers attracted passers-by as members of the New York State Nurses Association stood along the roadway just beyond the CVPH grounds.
Many carried placards that said, “Not All Cuts Here,” “Be Fair to Those Who Care” and “We Need Your Help.”
Passing motorists honked, and picketers called out in appreciation of the public’s support.
“I think it’s great,” said Tammy Grom, a 25-year veteran of CVPH who currently works as a registered nurse in the Palliative Care program, as well as on floor R5.
“These nurses are from our local communities and are working for our communities,” she said. “It’s great to hear the community support.”
FEAR WEAKENED CARE
The contract between NYSNA and CVPH Medical Center expired Dec. 31, 2012, and the sides have been in negotiations since early December.
The members have continued working under the provisions of that old agreement.
Sandra Guynup, nursing representative for the CVPH nurses, said negotiations have been going well but have slowed recently with the staffing issue and concerns about competitive wages.
“They (CVPH) need to be able to recruit and retain nurses,” she said. “We’re concerned that our experienced nurses won’t be here (if salaries are not more competitive) and that (vacant) positions won’t be filled.”
“It’s all about providing safe quality care,” Grom said. “If you can’t keep experienced nurses, that weakens the care you provide.”
The hospital has proposed pay increases in each of the three years of the new contract. All employees would receive raises of at least 4 percent over the contract agreement, and some would get as much as a 14 percent increase when factoring in steps associated with experience.