RNs, Vets Rally Over Proposed Bed Closures at Brooklyn VA
Registered nurses, veterans and community members will hold an informational rally and press conference on Monday, June 22, at the Brooklyn VA hospital, to speak out against hospital management’s recent decision to close the 25-bed-capacity 12W medical surgical unit, National Nurses United announced today.
Nurses say the closure of 12W will cut inpatient medical surgical beds by 35 percent, leaving only 62 remaining beds in the entire Brooklyn campus. In a medical facility already struggling with short staffing (Brooklyn VA RNs have documented hundreds of cases of unsafe staffing conditions in the past few months alone), the cuts also mean a 33 percent reduction in medical surgical nurses and a 19 percent RN reduction overall. This shortage in beds and nurse staff has decreased access to necessary care for veterans, say nurses.
"As a veteran who utilizes the VA for my primary health care the closure of the12W medical surgical unit at the Brooklyn VA is unacceptable to me,” says Iraq war veteran Jeff Camp. “Not only will it create a major issue for veterans and their families who will have to travel further into Manhattan to access proper care, it will also decrease accessibility for veterans who use the Manhattan complex because it will require the same case load with fewer nurses on the floor.”
What: Informational Rally and Press Conference
When: Monday, June 22; 11:30 a.m.—1:30 p.m.
Where: Brooklyn VA Hospital, 800 Poly Pl, Brooklyn, NY
VA Management has said the closure is due to budgetary concerns and will save more than $2 million per year. However, RNs point out that the budget comments are coming at a time when management at the Brooklyn and Manhattan VAs cannot explain where $207 million from Congress for Hurricane Sandy was spent. Veterans and RNs maintain that management’s top priority should be maintaining access to the kind of specialized care veterans receive at the Brooklyn VA—many of whom cannot easily access an alternative.
“RNs are extremely concerned that closing 12W will cut access to care for senior veterans who come to the Brooklyn VA. Many of our patients and their families are seniors, and the Manhattan VA is not easily accessible for them. Closing 12W is not the answer,” says WingYun (Michelle) Ngai, RN.
Monday’s rally seeks to draw attention to what’s happening at the medical center, and to give nurses and veteran-patients a chance to voice their concerns. As Camp points out, “A different solution to the budget problem must be sought, and that discussion should include direct care providers and the veteran-patient themselves."
More images from Monday's rally: