ROCHESTER N.Y. (WROC) — Nurses at Rochester Regional Hospital say they can’t take any more stress that comes with being understaffed, but before the union workers take a vote next week on whether to walk off the job, they held a candlelight vigil. 

According to the Rochester Union of Nurses and Allied Professionals, out of the 219 total shifts that were reported between the week of September 24 and October 1, only 38 were reported as being safe and staffed, leaving 179 shifts deemed unsafe.

Carmen Camelio who is a registered nurse in the Medical Intensive Care Unit and President of RUNAP says they gathered for the vigil to put pressure on Rochester Regional Health to bring more permanent staff so that patients get the care they need.

“So much of the problem has been that the working conditions have been so bad that we’re chasing nurses out of the profession. They don’t want to do the job anymore because they’re not appreciated. We are put into situations that put us in bodily harm and we’re not compensated for it either,” Camelio explains.

Stacey Judson is a registered nurse in the emergency room. She says not being able to provide for patients creates an emotional toll.

“You don’t want to work thinking that you could potentially cause harm because you can’t be there to answer that call bell because there’s 15 of them going off and not enough people to answer them,” Judson shares.

Camelio says instead, the hospital is putting their focus elsewhere.

“They’re spending a ton of money on travel nurses when they could spend a lot less money and pay the nurses who are here to stay and also to get the nurses who live in the area to want to come work with us,” says Camelio.

Shortly after the event, we received a statement from Rochester Regional Health expressing disappointment in the Nurses publicly downplaying the work the staff provides. Arguing by saying “We are continuously recruiting full-time nurses and are pleased to have hired 217 new nurses so far in 2023 with another 39 nurses set to begin before the end of the year.” 

 Camelio says they will hold a vote to strike next Wednesday on the 11th.