NY nurses union seeks hospital statistics on coronavirus in nurses

A New York nurses union is demanding local hospitals turn over statistics about coronavirus in nurses so they can prepare for a possible second wave of the virus, according to a report.

The New York State Nurses Association, which has 42,000 members statewide, filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board Tuesday against Mt. Sinai, NewYork-Presbyterian, Brooklyn’s Interfaith Medical Center, Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center and Wyckoff Heights Medical Center and separately against Westchester Medical Center, the Wall Street Journal reported.

That’s after struggling for weeks to obtain stats about how many of the union’s nurses had symptoms, were tested, had positive diagnoses and took time off from work since the pandemic hit New York back in March — all vital information in understanding the first wave and preparing for a possible second wave, the union says according to the report.

The union has cobbled together its own incomplete data, finding that at least 22 of its members died of the virus while over 2,000 nurses have gotten sick or had to leave work at two hospital systems for coronavirus-related reasons, the outlet reported.

But, hospitals may not have complete data, because they didn’t aggressively test early on in the pandemic when tests were hard to come by, the report says.

The Montefiore Health System has provided data to NYSNA on some of its hospitals indicating that 1,249 of unionized nurses took time off of work because of the virus and 13 percent of the system’s nurses tested positive for COVID-19, which a spokesperson for Montefiore lauded as well below the city’s 21-percent infection rate, the outlet reported.

In April, NYSNA filed multiple lawsuits against hospitals for allegedly not providing proper personal protective equipment to nurses and for their sick leave policies. Two of the cases were dismissed while one is still pending.

A spokesperson for Westchester Medical Center told the Journal that they have shared data and practices with NYSNA repeatedly.

“Our staff has tested positive for COVID-19 at a level consistent with or lower than community spread,” the rep told the outlet.

A rep with Interfaith Medical Center told the Journal they would give the union the information they are seeking.

Mt. Sinai, NewYork-Presbyterian, Wyckoff and Kingsbrook did not immediately return requests for comment.

NYSNA also did not immediately return a request for comment.

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