Columbia Memorial Hospital Solidarity RallyOctober 13, 2022
On Thursday September 1, a day before the start of Labor Day weekend, 1199SEIU members and community leaders rallied at the 7th Street Park in Hudson and asked: “Will Columbia Memorial Hospital have enough staff to meet the community’s healthcare needs throughout the holiday?”
CMH documents indicate more than 300 open positions at the hospital and its offsites on that day. The healthcare workers and many community leaders, including U.S.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, have been urging an indifferent administration to deal with the staffing crisis for more than a year. As the only hospital between Kingston and Albany, Columbia Memorial Health staff serves more than 100,000 residents in a healthcare desert spanning Columbia, Greene, and Dutchess counties.
“The entire community is feeling the impact of hospital leaders who are driving workers from the bedside by providing inadequate wages and failing to implement appropriate recruitment/retention practices,” said Karin Rene Roberts, a longtime RN at the hospital. “I think that for a long time, our administration buried their head in the sand and refused to acknowledge what we saw coming. We saw dribbles of staff leaving, which turned into torrents. Now they can’t hide anymore.”
Elected leaders turned out in solidarity for the workers at the rally. New York State Senator Michelle Hinchey said, “We’re heading into Labor Day and it’s important that we support our friends, neighbors and relatives in labor. As more and more people come to our area, we have to make sure we have the support systems, and that includes health care.”
Kamal Johnson, the mayor of Hudson, told the CMH members, “The nationwide staffing crisis doesn’t take Columbia Memorial off the hook for its own staffing issues. Especially when so many employees are quitting to work at neighboring hospitals that pay better. They’re leaving for better working conditions. That’s not something that can be blamed on this nationwide crisis.”
1199SEIU members say they will continue to make their voices heard and demand that CMH management fix the situation, for the sake of quality patient care and to maintain the hospital’s legacy as a trusted community health care provider and partner.