Sisters of Charity Hospital in Buffalo — part of the Catholic Health system — threw a wellness fair Tuesday for National Nurses Week.

  • Nurses being recognized this week for their bedside care and compassion
  • Those Spectrum News spoke with say safe staffing is a major challenge
  • Bill that would require a more manageable nurse-to-patient ratio sits in the Senate, Assembly

"To thank our nurses, and to celebrate them and to recognize them. They work 12-hour shifts for the most part, and that can be exhausting mentally and physically by the end of that 12 hours,” said Mary Dillon, Sister of Charity Hospital chief nursing officer.

Trevor Moore, of Allegany has been a nurse for 11 years and spent the last few at Olean General Hospital, affiliated with Kaleida Health.

"It's like breathing, you just do it. You go to work, you do your job. You do the best that you can to make sure these patients get the care they need,” said Moore.

Cori Gambini, veteran nurse of 34 years who works at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital — part of Kaleida — says one of those challenges is safe staffing.

She also heads the Communications Workers of America, Local Union 1168 and says there are not enough bedside nurses to handle the large volume of patients.

"It's absolutely dangerous for the patient. But we absolutely need more people at the bedside. When you have too many patients to care for, you are not in the room to see the patient frequently enough. So that's when falls happen, medication errors happen,” said Gambini.

While Gambini admits hiring more nurses is expensive, the move would lessen a patient's stay, stabilize the workforce and lower operating costs.

Moore says he alerts OGH management when assignment levels are unsafe, and urges the administration to follow contract rules to prevent bad situations from becoming worse.

"These are people's lives that we are in charge of. And it's a serious thing I don't think administration fully understands, because we're the front line, we're the ones dealing with it,” said Moore.

Dillon says even when occasionally short-staffed, Catholic Health continues to address the issue based on the number of patients and the severity of their illness.

"Somebody calls in and we don't have a replacement, but for the most part, overall, our plans call for safe staffing,” said Dillon.

Despite the challenges, Gambini and Moore say making a difference in people's lives is most rewarding.

"We bring babies into the world and we're there when someone takes their last breath," said Gambini.

"Where you've saved their life, or even just sitting at the bedside holding their hand while they are crying to you, and you can make them smile," said Moore.

The Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act that would require a more manageable nurse-to-patient ratio currently sits in committee of both the state Senate and Assembly.