COVID-19 upended NYC’s nursing workforce. 3 years later, hospitals are trying to rebuild it.

Gothamist, Caroline Lewis, April 4, 2023

As New York City hospitals continue to grapple with staffing shortages three years into the pandemic, competition for nurses has become fierce – and many who remain in full-time jobs said they now feel more empowered than ever to fight for better working conditions and pay.

Labor tensions crescendoed in January when 7,000 nurses went on strikefor three days at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.

Historic wins at those facilities – and others that narrowly avoided a strike – had a domino effect. They quickly precipitated sizable pay raises at other medical centers represented by the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) and the health care union 1199SEIU. The latter was able to re-open negotiations with a group of 90 hospitals and nursing homes midway through their contract and secure a new deal within days.

But some nurses working at hospitals in New York City say they’re still not out of the woods. Many of their colleagues left their full-time hospital jobs during the pandemic. And while workforce data shows new nurses are still entering the profession, those monitoring health care trends said they have yet to alleviate hospitals’ reliance on temporary staff.

Nurses who have won new staffing commitments from their employers in recent contracts, and through legislation that was passed in Albany in 2021, said they have to stay vigilant to make sure hospitals actually adhere to them.

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