NEW YORK (AP) - New York state's largest nurses' union filed separate lawsuits against the state health department, a hospital network and a hospital over working conditions for nurses treating COVID-19 patients.
The New York State Nurses Association charged in the lawsuits filed against the department, Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and Westchester County Health Care Corp. that its members have been forced to labor in unsafe working conditions without adequate masks or surgical gowns. The union also said sick nurses have been forced to return to work too early.
"These lawsuits were filed to protect our nurses, our patients and our communities from grossly inadequate and negligent protections," Pat Kane, the executive director of the 42,000-member union, said in a statement.
Jonah Bruno, a spokesman for the health department, said the state "continues to take every step necessary to ensure that health care workers, particularly those who are sampling and providing direct care, have the support and supplies needed to address this unprecedented public health emergency."
Westchester County Health Care, the parent company of Westchester Medical Center, said, "the allegations in NYSNA's lawsuit are wrong." And Montefiore said the union's leadership "has chosen to attack a system, and the commitment of thousands of their colleagues, who have followed the governor's emergency orders and are selflessly doing all they can to fight COVID-19 and save lives."