Car Caravan for Safe Staffing

October 13, 2022


More than 1,000 members at the hospitals owned by Nuvance Health signed a letter to the Nuvance Board of Directors at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie and Putnam Hospital in Carmel, NY—calling on them to tackle short staffing.

They sent the letter three different times, but unfortunately, when August came around, there was still no response.

The hope was that the Board, which is responsible for ensuring Nuvance is fulfilling its mission of providing quality care, would understand the impact short staffing is having on patients and workers. There are long waits throughout every department— including labs and hospital emergency rooms. Staff, working around the clock, suffer fatigue and stress. Qualified caregivers, professionals and service workers have all been leaving their jobs.

With below-market wages that aren’t keeping up with the cost of living, the short-staffing situation was only getting worse. And despite the opportunity to fix the situation through contract negotiations, the workers did not feel heard by management, or the Board.

Erin Mulligan, who works in the constantly short-staffed Emergency Room at Putnam Hospital said, “By August, we said it was time for the public to know that Nuvance was putting profits before patients. We organized two car caravans with a mobile billboard in the lead and visited the homes of several Board members—once again, asking for their support. One caravan traveled across the Poughkeepsie area. The other started in Putnam County and drove across the state line to western Connecticut where Nuvance headquarters are located. The 1199 billboard, asking members of the community to call the Nuvance CEOs and urge them to do what’s necessary to fix the staffing problem, was on display throughout the route.”

Amy Jordan, who works at the Nuvance Hudson Valley Heart Center in Poughkeepsie said, “It was a great action, exciting, with strong member unity. That’s the way we are going to win this—the way 1199 members have done for decades. We are going to stay strong, make our voices heard in every way we can think of, and stick together until Nuvance does the right thing.”

As of this writing, contract negotiations continue for 1,600 members at Vassar and Putnam hospitals. Three hundred other members in residual units and at Nuvance Northern Dutchess Hospital are negotiating their first contract.

1199 Magazine | September / October 2022