Laura Ribas hasn’t left her son’s bedside for four days.
Her one-year-old son, Logan, has been in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) since birth. For the past three and a half months, he has been under the care of Mount Sinai Hospital Thousands of nurses are currently on strike.
Logan was born premature at 27 weeks and is on a ventilator because his lungs are underdeveloped.
Mount Sinai’s NICU has been consistently understaffed since before the strike, Ribas said. But from Mount Sinai Nurses went on strike On Monday, new travel nurses replaced Logan’s primary care nurses — nurses who didn’t fully understand her son’s needs, she said.
Ribas said she was too scared to leave her son alone in the care of new travel nurses. She took leave from work to be by his side.
“It’s scary to think that I can’t even go to the bathroom without worrying about myself,” Ribas told CNN.
Although travel nurses try to compensate, they “don’t really know my son” and are still learning where things are around the unit, Ribas said.
According to the mother, they were unable to take care of her one-on-one due to staff shortages, and she said staffing levels were low at night.
Two nurses currently working at Mount Sinai Hospital told CNN Monday that additional travel nurses are not arriving at their sites as expected to replace the striking nurses, causing stress for patients and staff.
Mount Sinai Health System did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
In preparation for the strike, Mount Sinai announced Friday Take newborn babies to its intensive care unit For other area hospitals. But the most dangerous babies — like Logan — stay in the hospital’s NICU unit. A NICU nurse at Mount Sinai, who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity, said transferring a NICU baby to another hospital is a risky move.
“It’s a big trip for a baby who hasn’t been out of the hospital,” she told CNN. “Nothing happens that we want. We want our kids to be there.
The baby’s condition is so critical that transfer to another hospital becomes more complicated, the nurse explained.
“You need at least one doctor or nurse practitioner, a respiratory therapist if the patient is on respiratory support and a transport nurse to work on the pumps and administer medication if needed,” he said.
Ribas said her son’s primary nurses, who are currently on strike, are heartbroken that they have to leave him and bring him in to check on his condition.
“He has really wonderful primary care nurses,” she said. “They were in tears over having to leave my baby because he had a heart attack two days before the strike, so now I’m dealing with that and the lack of staff. It’s very scary.”
A nurses’ strike at two private New York City hospitals, Montefiore and Mount Sinai, involving more than 7,000 nurses, entered its second day Tuesday. Montefiore said he would hold bargaining sessions on Tuesday. According to the nurses association, Mount Sinai has no plans to do so.
A sticking point continues to be enforcement of safe staffing levels, New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) union officials said.
A pediatric oncology nurse at Mount Sinai who administers chemotherapy to children with cancer said it was difficult for her patients to let them go on strike, but she knew it was in the best interest of their care.
“We love these patients more than anything, and it breaks our hearts — at least it breaks my heart — to be here, but I have to do this for the future of their care.”
Ribas said he hopes the hospital administration will soon reach an agreement with the nurses.
“Nurses are the heart of the NICU, and they have to figure it out before it becomes a weird situation — because every minute, every hour, the risk of babies dying here is very, very high.”
“There is nothing to bring back your child. “Nothing,” she said.
– CNN’s Tami Luhby, Vanessa Yurkevich and Mark Morales contributed to this report