Nurses rally for improved wages and working conditions

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Nurses protested Tuesday morning over wages and working conditions at one local hospital.

Nurses started the rally in front of the Montefiore Hospital in New Rochelle at 6 a.m.

Organizers say they are demanding a fair contract that boosts up staffing levels in the hospital, which they say is overcrowded and understaffed. "We can do a much better job dealing with the patients' frustrations and difficult time they're having if we didn't also have to fight against the hospital and management," says David Nightingale, registered nurse.

They say they're especially concerned that conditions will get worse when Mount Vernon Hospital is closed next year. "We're trying to keep it up, but it's very frustrating when you're working day after day and don't take breaks and have to stay late.  It's just very difficult," says Kathy Santoiemma, registered nurse.

Santoiemma says the patients are feeling the impact also. "I have to prioritize what's more important.  You may have to wait to go to the bathroom or get a blanket or get food when I have someone with chest pains or I have a patient down the hall who's dying." 

Nurses also want the hospital system to chip in more toward paying for courses and degrees nurses need to stay current in their field. They also want better health benefits for when they retire. "I've worked in this hospital for 42 years and when I retire, I'll have no health care," says  Santoiemma.

The nurses hope the rally this will get the hospital's attention and improve their working conditions so that the patients get the care they need.

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