Candlelight Vigil Will Shine Light On The Risks To Quality Care Caused By Short Staffing At HealthAlliance Hospital and Lack of Mental Health Beds In Ulster County

February 17, 2022

For Immediate Release
Media Event: February 17, 2022, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Contact: Mindy Berman, 518-229-0486

Healthcare workers (members of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East,) elected officials and concerned citizens say that Westchester Medical Center must step up and provide the care and services that the residents of Kingston and surrounding communities need.

What: Candlelight Vigil and Press Conference (photo op and interviews available)

When: Thursday, February 17, 2022
6p.m. – 8p.m.

Where: Health Alliance Hospital, Broadway Campus
396 Broadway, Kingston

Who: 1199SEIU Healthcare Workers, State and Local Elected Officials, Community Supporters Special Guest Speaker: Pat Ryan, Ulster County Executive

At a glance:

1199SEIU members have been trying to negotiate a fair first contract with WMC/ HealthAlliance for more than a year, without success. In the meantime, the challenges and drama of the COVID pandemic persist, and dedicated healthcare workers are leaving their jobs under great stress. The purpose of the vigil is to call attention to several critical issues.

First, the members’ contract proposals are more than reasonable—fair market wages and affordable benefits will attract and retain healthcare workers, thereby helping address severe short staffing issues. A fair contract must also give workers the resources to take care of their own families, so they can devote 100% to caring for others.

Invested in the community: 1199SEIU members at HealthAlliance don’t only work at the hospital—they are also part of the Ulster/ Dutchess community. With their own families living, working, and going to school in the area, their commitment to providing quality care at the hospital is personal!

That in mind, the members are also urging WMC to bring back to Kingston much-needed mental health beds.

1199SEIU Member Voices Gabe and Lindsey, as well as other 1199 members at HealthAlliance are available for interviews throughout the day, at the vigil and after the vigil.

Gabriel "Gabe" Valles,
Clinical tech, Psychiatric Emergency

“We’re holding this vigil because we can’t afford to visit the hospital we work at; our pay doesn’t allow us to work just one job or focus on our patients. Our staffing situation is a direct result of our pay. It’s reasonable to be able to care for our families and continue to care for our patients. We don’t want to make money – we want to make people healthy.“

Lindsey Bradford
Cardiac Care Monitor

“I work in health care and I can’t even afford health care. I’ve been working at this hospital for ten years and I work without a lunch break or bathroom breaks due to shortages on staff. We can’t get new people in the door because they can work for more money elsewhere. I work 12-hr. nights/four nights a week and I still can’t afford health care or braces for my kids. The hospital needs to stop stalling on this contract. Now.”


1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in America. We represent over 450,000 nurses and caregivers throughout Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Florida. Our mission is to achieve quality care and good jobs for all.