The Perfect Enemy | PHOTOS | Jacobi nurses hold COVID-19 vigil as union contract expires – Bronx Times - Bronx Times
May 12, 2024

PHOTOS | Jacobi nurses hold COVID-19 vigil as union contract expires – Bronx Times – Bronx Times

PHOTOS | Jacobi nurses hold COVID-19 vigil as union contract expires – Bronx Times  Bronx TimesView Full Coverage on Google News

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Nurses at Jacobi Medical Center gather at the main entrance for an evening vigil on March 2, 2023 to commemorate colleagues impacted by COVID-19 amid their union contract expiring. Nurses set to work the night shift alternated with those that had worked the day shift to participate in the vigil around 7 p.m. Speakers advocated for better pay for nurses at the public hospital to improve staff retention and the quality of patient care saying they are not here for the money but for the well-being of the community.

Photo Paige Perez

Vigil participants hold signs and chant “we shouldn’t have to say it twice, respect our sacrifice.” A NICU nurse for more than 30 years told the Bronx Times that they all have been hit hard by the pandemic and many are leaving for better pay at private hospitals. The nurse said most of the senior staff is gone and nurses are feeling burnt out. “We are a great hospital, but it’s hard to stay at a great hospital when they don’t have enough staff to do that great work,” she said. Another NICU nurse who started in 2020 told the Bronx Times that they decided to leave Jacobi for a private hospital in Long Island. Photo Paige Perez
Jacobi Medical Center in the East Bronx is one of many hospitals across the city where nurses are speaking out against the pay disparity and working conditions, compared to the private sector. Nurses formed a Contract Action Team last year to mobilize themselves and elected leaders of the hospital system to participate in the process and prepare to fight for more investment and an expansion of public services. Photo Paige Perez
Tony Thaqi, a Bronx resident, waves a hand clapper during the Thursday night vigil. Thaqi is a nurse in the surgical trauma ICU. Thaqi said nurses at Jacobi fulfill the burden of a lot of other hospitals unable to care for people that are undocumented and low-income, and that some travel nurses who were brought in to help aren’t as invested in the community. Thaqi said he grew up in the borough and to be able to work for the city and give back means everything to him, but nurses need more support. Photo Paige Perez
Kristle Simms-Murphy (center), a family nurse practitioner, member of the negotiating committee and recently elected secretary for the NYSNA Health + Hospitals/Mayorals Executive Council, spoke to the crowd about a nurse from Jacobi who passed away due to COVID-19. She said the lives lost will not be in vain and their nurses are worth equal pay to the private sector. “I don’t think people understand how much that affected us,” Simms-Murphy told the Bronx Times. Photo Paige Perez
Masks lay on the floor of the hospital’s main entrance. Nurses said they were among the first hospitals in the city to protest for N95 masks at the height of the pandemic. A nurse practitioner told the Bronx Times that they never received a pay increase while working during that unprecedented period. The nurse said these conditions exposed the negative aspects of the U.S. health care system. “People were clapping for us at one point, appreciated us, and after COVID, they forgot about us,” she said. Photo Paige Perez

Reach Paige Perez at [email protected]. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes