ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Nurses of Rochester General Hospital say current staff-to-patient ratios are reaching levels that put patients’ health and their own well-being at risk. They say any proposals they bring to RGH management allegedly go nowhere. 

These concerns are some of the key factors to why nurses decided to unionize last year. In this post-pandemic era, RGH Nurses argue management has not made up for staff loss, and the quality of patient care has suffered. But Hospital leadership assures positive changes are coming. 

Leaders with the Rochester Union of Nurses and Allied Professionals reported RGH patients develop multiple infections above average rates while in their care. Data that’s cohobated by Leapfrog Group who gave the hospital a “D” for their Spring of 2023 grade.  

“That’s not acceptable for our community,” Labor and Delivery RN Gillian Kingsley stated. “That means that patients are dying unnecessarily, that patients are having infections that shouldn’t have infections and are requiring longer lengths of stay.”  

Jennifer Eslinger serves as president of Healthcare Operations at Rochester General Hospital. She argues this grade is based on data from 2019-2022 and improvements are being made now.  

“We put in place a dashboard, score card, we started working on patient experience,” Eslinger explained. “We worked on key quality initiatives really focusing on care experience, patient safety indicators as well as hospital-acquired infections.”  

Since October, nurses of RGH claim negotiations to balance the nurse/patient ratio have gone nowhere. Now in some units, assignments can be double what they’re supposed to be.   

“Hopefully it would be a 1:5 or 1:6 for safe care to be given but sometimes it’s up to 10 patients,” Rochester Union of Nurses and Allied Professionals President Christa Kendall told us. 

“We got to a unit and they were understaffed and they had a patient who was in danger of sliding out of a chair,” Rochester Union of Nurses and Allied Professionals Vice President Carmen Camelio added. “They didn’t have enough people onboard in the unit at that time to get her back into the chair.”  

Hospital Management disputes ratio’s get that high and nurses only look after multiple patients who are no longer the most vulnerable of the sickest.  

“Staffing to equity a 1:3 might be appropriate. There is a piece of paper that says it should be a 1:2 but the piece of paper doesn’t take into account what is happening with the patient’s clinical conditions,” Eslinger said.  

RGH leaders expect to hire another 200 nurses by the end of this year. But veteran nurses argue this doesn’t close the gap in experience with so many newcomers joining without proper guidance to offer the right care.  

This week RGH called for a federal mediator to join the negotiations between the hospital and its nurses to help both parties come to an agreement.