ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Albany Medical Center nurses gathered on Tuesday morning for a one-day strike for better wages and benefits. Albany Med management says, despite the strike, they continued to care for their patients without any interruptions.
“As for the strike, my belief is that it was nothing more than a reckless gamble, and they have struck out,” said President and CEO of Albany Medical Center Dr. Dennis McKenna.
Dr. McKenna says Tuesday was a challenging day as Albany County coronavirus hospitalizations reached record levels and hundreds of nurses decided to walkout on the job.
“So, for a subset of our nurses to walk away from our patients during this global health crisis is irresponsible and quite frankly heartbreaking,” said Dr. McKenna.
“We chose to step out during the pandemic because we felt that the conditions are so bad inside that they couldn’t possible become any worse by us standing outside. We believe this is calling attention to it, and it should speak volumes. We want the public to know how dangerous it is right now in Albany Med,” said Lenore Granich-Berghela, Albany Med nurse.
Lenore, over 100 nurses, members of the union, and local officials marched around the hospital protesting for better working conditions.
“We need to have better personal protection equipment available to us. We have to stop reusing masks. In the hospital, we are currently having an outbreak of COVID-19. We have multiple nurses and staff members that are out sick,” said Granich-Berghela.
“Our supply of protective equipment remains adequate. Any reprocessing of N95 masks are done in line by federal and state guidance,” said Dr. McKenna.
Albany Med officials say 408 Albany Med nurses chose to work by noon on Tuesday, representing 76 percent of shifts scheduled. Dr. McKenna says many more nurses have told managers they will be coming in for their evening shifts. The hospital had 538 nurses scheduled to work on Tuesday.
The nurses say they want this day to be a chance for their voices to be heard once and for all.
“It’s not about financial reasons. This is solely about improving working conditions so the nurses can provide the best patient care,” said Granich-Berghela.
Albany Med management says the temporary nurses are on a three-day contract. They will remain onsite through the morning of Friday, Dec. 4. To satisfy the agreement with the temporary nurses, any Albany Med nurse who chose to strike and was replaced by a temporary nurse will be subjected to delayed reinstatement and will not return to work until Friday.
Dr. McKenna says the nurses who chose to strike will be welcomed back to campus.
“While the strike has been a painful experience for all of us, we must move forward together,” he said.