Quality over quantity is not a choice for the nurses at Vassar Brothers Medical Center, they are fighting for both.
"Nurses are leaving because they are so stressed, their mental health is taking a hit," said Robin Rule, RN at Vassar Brothers Medical Center.
Protesters came out in the hundreds Wednesday to fight for the need for safe staffing.
"All the units at the hospital are at capacity," said Erika Francisco, ER RN at Vassar Brother Medical Center.
They want their union to settle on a fair contract with the hospital, and they say they're severely understaffed — which results in longer work days, unfair staff to patient ratios, and decreased quality of care.
"It's not safe for the nurses, patients, families, [or] future nurses. My daughter wants to be a nurse one day and the way it is, I want her to go into a profession where she is safe and she can safely take care of patients," Rule said.
The nurses are protesting not striking: The nurses still go to work and come out during their lunch breaks to support one another. There is also a bill in a senate committee looking to resolve this issue. Rule has been a nurse at Vassar Brothers for 10 years and she says mental health care is just as important as physical care.
"It's not all about providing basic care, it's about providing that compassionate care because that helps them heal," Rule said. "I will always remember having a patient find out she had pancreatic cancer, but I had so many other patients I couldn't sit there and comfort her and talk to her about her diagnosis, and just be there for her the way I needed to be," Rule said.
In a statement from the hospital they say:
"Vassar Brothers Medical Center is committed to our nurses and the excellent care our clinical teams provide to our patients. We continue to bargain in good faith to reach [an] agreement with NYSNA. An informational picket is an expected part of any contract renegotiation with NYSNA and will not affect the daily operations of the hospital. We are confident we will achieve a positive long-term solution for all, which will address NYSNA’s position and the community's needs," said John R. Nelson, director of Public and Community Affairs at Vassar Brothers.