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Photo: Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS
Photo: Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS

Dozens of registered nurses, therapists and clerical workers took to the picket line outside of St. Mary’s Hospital for Children in Bayside to protest current wages, benefits and staffing concerns.

“We’re committed to our organization and we really, really would love to stay here,” said Cynthia McDonald, a registered nurse at the hospital for seven years. “We’re committed to the children we take care of. But the people who are working here cannot afford to stay.”

 

Members of United Healthcare Workers East — the largest health care workers union in the nation — marched outside chanting phrases such as “Shame on you, St. Mary’s Hospital” and “We care for children every day” to protest the alleged foot dragging of hospital management in presenting an improved contract to workers.

McDonald said that the lack of adequate compensation makes for high employee turnover, forcing the hospital to hire employees with less experience.

“When we have new hires, they don’t stay, because there’s no incentive to stay; the workload is heavy and they get burnt out and they go on to another facility that offers better benefits,” McDonald said.

Colleague Brian Connolly, a physical therapist at the hospital for 10 years, echoed this sentiment.

“It’s been a long time since people have been given fair raises. We haven’t had a cost of living raise in some time,” he said. “I think not having more than one person in each discipline — and that’s only physical therapy and occupational therapy — with more than 3 to 5 years [of experience] is a tell-tale that people aren’t sticking around or staying long.”

“We’re not asking for expense accounts; we’re not asking for Cadillacs,” McDonald continued. “We’re asking for benefits so that we can take care of our families and we can continue to take care of the children here that we really, really love to take care of.”

St. Mary’s Hospital for Children is a not-for-profit healthcare facility that provides intensive rehabilitation, specialized care and education to children with special needs and life-limiting conditions.

QNS reached out to St. Mary’s Hospital for Children for comment and is awaiting a response.

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