Nurse staffing levels at center of picket today

Aug 27, 2020

Healthcare workers of the CWA Union Local 1168 are picketing this afternoon at Kaleida Health facilities to call for 'safe staffing' levels.


Credit MCS 2nd Class Sara Eshleman / U.S. Navy photo

The COVID-19 pandemic stood as a challenge for American hospital systems as they dealt with a surge of patients. But Cori Gambini, president of CWA Local 1168 said hospitals were facing staff shortages before that, and continue to. 

“We are facing the fact that there are just not enough healthcare workers at the bedside,” Gambini said. “It’s not just registered nurses, it’s our ancillary staff, our PCA’s, CMA’s, ancillary staff is covered by a lot of job titles.” 

Gambini said the staffing shortage is from a combination of things, including Kaleida not posting positions, long-time nurses retiring, and the stress level of high nurse-to-patient ratios burning out newer nurses. 

“Late fifties, sixties, mid-sixties, and they’re gonna be going,” said Gambini on nurse age demographics. “Some young nurses who have started, are like ‘nope, I’m not working like this for the rest of my life,’ and are changing careers and leaving.” 

California is the only state to require mandatory minimums for nurse-to-patient ratios. Gambini believes after years of lobbying hospital systems, a state law might be the only solution at this point. 

“The staffing plan is not good enough,” Gambini said. “Some areas we have a charge nurse for 50 patients, and they’re sectioned on two separate ends of the building, you got north and south, and there’s elevators and a corridor between them. They [hospital administrators] think one charge nurse should be able to bounce back and forth.”

Gambini said this is not solely a problem at Kaleida, but an issue facing hospital systems across the state, and across the country.