Hospitals & Facilities

Mount Sinai hospitals hit with $2+ million in understaffing penalties

It’s the eighth time arbitrators have ruled against the New York City-based hospitals over “safe staffing.”
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· 3 min read

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Three prominent New York City hospitals shelled out more than $2 million to New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) members this month over alleged “chronic nurse understaffing,” according to the union.

Following arbitration, Mount Sinai Morningside paid nearly $934,000 to nurses in its emergency department, Mount Sinai West paid more than $957,000 to its labor-and-delivery unit nurses, and Mount Sinai Hospital paid more than $240,000 to nurses in an oncology unit, according to NYSNA.

“To echo one of the arbitrators in these recent decisions, ‘The numbers do not lie,’” NYSNA Executive Director Pat Kane said in a statement. “Hospital administrators must do better—and we know they can afford to do better.”

It’s the eighth time arbitrators have ruled against the health system for understaffing, despite a 2023 state law requiring hospitals to create staff and management committees that establish plans for lower nurse-to-patient ratios. Nurses who are proponents of so-called safe staffing laws—and have gone on strike at systems across the country over the issue—say that higher quality of care is provided when they have fewer patients.

“I’ve had nurses calling me in tears because they had to walk by a patient they haven’t seen in two hours,” Sheryl Ostroff, an emergency department nurse of 21 years who works at Mount Sinai Morningside, said in a statement. “They feel like they let themselves and their patients down when it is the hospital that has let us down.”

In previous rulings, the arbitrators have ordered Mount Sinai to hire more nurses, provide “break relief nurses to meet safe staffing standards,” and pay financial penalties under a union contract provision, according to NYSNA.

Despite Mount Sinai’s status as one of the wealthiest health systems in the city, NYSNA leaders pointed to NYC Health + Hospitals, the city’s municipal hospital system, as an example of hiring and retaining “enough nurses for safe patient care.”

The public hospital system has gained 600 new nurses through hiring and improved retention, and its permanent nurse staffing “has almost completely rebounded back to pre-Covid-19 levels after a period of overreliance on expensive temporary travel agency nurses,” according to NYSNA.

In a statement, Mount Sinai spokesperson Stacy Anderson said the system is “confident” it can continue providing excellent care, recruit top caregiver talent, and maintain high clinical quality standards.

“Hospitals everywhere have grappled with nursing and other healthcare worker shortages, and these are not challenges unique to any healthcare provider and have been well documented across the city, state, and country,” according to the statement.

Navigate the healthcare industry

Healthcare Brew covers pharmaceutical developments, health startups, the latest tech, and how it impacts hospitals and providers to keep administrators and providers informed.