Community Speaks Out Against Hospital Layoffs

POUGHKEEPSIE – NYSNA nurses, patients, community allies and elected officials, including Assemblymember Jonathan Jacobson, rallied outside Vassar Brothers Medical Center. They spoke out against hospital layoffs, calling for an immediate reversal to this harmful move.

Vassar Brothers Medical Center, part of Nuvance Health, is laying off 14 nurses. This comes at a time when the hospital is frequently understaffed, putting quality patient care at risk.

These layoffs will have a devastating impact on patient care throughout the hospital. The team of IV nurses are highly trained experts in their field and play a critical role in providing proper care to patients. Vassar has already struggled to hire and retain enough nurses for safe patient care, making the negative impact of these layoffs even more pronounced.

Margaret Franks, RN, BSN, NYSNA Regional Director, said: “Closing the ambulatory surgery center and decimating the IV team will be dire for patient care. I rely heavily upon the experience and skill set of the IV team to ensure my patients get the IV medications they need in a timely manner. On the medical-surgical floors where I work, we are already understaffed, frequently charged with 7 or 8 patients each. Vassar is constantly violating their safe staffing standards. We will lose more nurses because of these layoffs, and we are already in dire need of more nurses for safe staffing.”

Erica Ng, RN, BSN, said: “I’ve been a nurse at Vassar for about nine years and I’ve been trained to work in nearly every in-patient unit at Vassar. In every unit, I’ve benefitted from the expertise of our IV nurses—they don’t teach this skill in school. These layoffs are only going to cause even more of a downward spiral for patient safety.”

Lianne Lotaj, RN, said: “As a nurse at Vassar for 18 years, currently working in the in-house emergency response team, I’m sometimes called to do IVs when no one is available. But I am nowhere near aa expert as our team of nationally certified IV nurses. Getting an IV inserted in a timely manner ensures that our patients receive life-sustaining medications and treatments without delay. This critical task will now fall onto the already overloaded nurses who have not received adequate training. This affects all of us—we need the community to stand with us and call on the hospital to immediately stop this decision.”

Nurses in the Ambulatory Surgery Center are also being laid off, which will impact patients in need of surgery at Vassar. Kerry O’Brien, RN, a nurse of 30 years, said: “We are grossly understaffed already in this hospital, and now they’re laying off nurses! It makes no sense. We have closed the ambulatory surgery center before for short periods of time—like during COVID-19. My coworkers and I were reallocated to the main hospital without a problem, because surgical services always need more nurses. These layoffs are unfair and unnecessary, especially when there’s such a huge need for nurses throughout the hospital.”

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