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Nassau Union Protests at NUMC Continue

CSEA Local 830 demonstrates against hospital administration, staffing changes

CSEA Nassau Local 830 is continuing protests against NUMC's administration.

CSEA Nassau Local 830 is continuing protests against NUMC's administration.

For the second time in a week, Nassau Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) Local 830 leaders and members staged protests against what they describe as the “dangerous” policies of Nassau University Medical Center’s administrative staff.

Hundreds of members from NUMC, including nurses and other medical staffers, rallied at the corner of Hempstead Turnpike and Carmen Avenue in East Meadow July 24. They carried signs. They shouted to passers-by who honked horns in support.


Accompanying them was a 12-foot-high inflatable rat, which has been stationed outside the county’s public hospital since a similar protest July 17 and will remain, say union officials, till July 27.

CSEA Local 830 President Jerry Laricchiuta explains the protests are necessary to bring attention to ongoing practices endangering the safety of NUMC’s patients and employees.

“Someone has to intervene,” Laricchiuta tells the Press. “Before it’s too late, before somebody gets hurt here… the basic care is hurting.”

Hospital administrators declined to comment about the most recent demonstration, and instead referred to a previous statement that Arthur A. Gianelli, president/CEO of the Nassau Health Care Corporation (NHCC) and former deputy county executive for budget and finance, released in response to last week’s protest:

“The timing of the placement of the rat—the final day of a very important Joint Commission survey—speaks volumes about the union. Is says, basically, that this union works in opposition to—and in fact undermines—the success of the corporation. Fortunately, the corporation will succeed in spite of their juvenile behavior.”

CSEA Local 830 represents 3,400 members at the NHCC, which consists of NUMC, A. Holly Patterson Extended Care Facility and several clinics. It is the county’s largest union, with 10,000 total members. A key problem existing throughout the hospital and requiring immediate correction, the union argues, is understaffing. The issue has been impacting its nursing, psychiatric ward and intensive care unit, it says.

Nurses have been working five eight-hour shifts per week since June 7, say members, rather than their traditional schedule of three 12-hour shifts. This is a violation of CSEA and NHCC’s collective bargaining agreement, says the union. CSEA also believes NUMC is violating a recent law that makes it illegal for nurses to be mandated overtime.

Two nurses participating in the protest, who asked they remain anonymous because they currently work at the hospital and fear retaliation, tell the Press the situation is reaching a breaking point.

“This is a level-one trauma center,” one nurse explains. “[Yet] we only have four permanent nurses for five days a week on the 3 to 11 shift… Right now, the 3 to 11 is being staffed by overtime.”

Laricchiuta says he and the rat will be out in front of the hospital as long as they have to be.

“We’re going to continue to show the dangerous situation that’s being created here until somebody pays attention,” says Laricchiuta. “Nobody in the county government seems to care. Nobody in this administration seems to care, either, so the public needs to know what’s going on and then eventually we’ll get elected officials and this administration’s attention. Until then, Larry the Rat’s going to stay right where he is.”

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