Westchester nurses move to ban mandatory overtime

Unions representing local nurses say they want to do away with mandatory overtime.

The mandatory overtime, which affects a majority of Westchester?s nurses, forces nurses to work double shifts, sometimes as long as 12 hours. Gorete Crowe, of the Westchester Nurses Association, says there needs to be a law banning mandatory overtime for nurses in New York state.

Crowe is a registered nurse at the Westchester Medical Center. She says that when nurses work extra hours, it harms the patients because the longer hours allow for more mistakes.

?When you are here for 12 hours, you are physically tired, you are emotionally exhausted,? Crowe says. ?The quality of care definitely jumps down because people are exhausted.?

Crowe says the WNA is one of many nursing organizations actively lobbying lawmakers to get the mandatory overtime ban passed.

The state says if mandatory overtime is banned, it will lead to a shortage of nurses at a critical time. Nonetheless, lawmakers in Albany are already considering a law that stops hospitals from forcing their nurses to work extra hours. A similar law already exists in New Jersey.

Jim Foy, President of the Riverside Healthcare system, says lawmakers should be careful not to leave hospitals short-staffed. ?You need some exceptions to make sure you are not going to have critically ill patients on a ventilator and no nurse next to them,? he says.

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