ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Stay up to date on the latest headlines in today’s Sunrise Smart Start on Friday, July 15, 2022.


Rochester General Hospital nurses layout changes they hope unionizing will bring

Nurses of Rochester General Hospital officially launched a union to represent their place at the hospital.

The vote was stretched out in a two-day long election, ending Wednesday night to form the Rochester Union of Nurses and Allied Professionals.  

Nurses at Rochester General Hospital said that, for years, they’ve been stretched thin to look after too many patients at one time, which puts patients and their own safety at risk.

Since the vote passed, nurses say the atmosphere is more positive.  

For the past three years, Allison Smaczniak has been a registered nurse at RGH. As time went on, she noticed more of her co-workers transferring or searching for new careers due to staff shortages being ignored by management.  

“One nurse to eight-to-nine patients happens far too often,” Smaczniak said. “Not just on my unit, but across the hospital. In the ED, they’re spread very thin. Your nurse should not be spread so thin that you do not get adequate care.”  

Nurses of RGH spent months attempting to form this Union. They hope to get more of a direct say in hospital operations that impact patients. Christa Kendall has been with the hospital for almost 20 years and said demands were ignored for too long. 

“You never see any change,” Kendall said. “So, we wouldn’t be in the situation we are if it wasn’t for transparency as they say that we have, which we haven’t. So, we haven’t had a voice, which the union was the only thing we could think of.”  

Despite a majority voting in favor of forming the union, 295 nurses voted no. Pictures from some nurses showed full screens on work computers urging “NO” votes. 

Some photos also show banners in the main hallways. 

“There were a lot of newer nurses who were fearful of what management was telling them,” Nurse Smaczniak said. “And a lot of older nurses who were afraid to lose out on things that we’re trying to lock in like the pension.”  

“It’s very immature,” Kendall said. “We’re here to try and make a better place and I feel they should have stood up and handled the situation a lot better.”  

An apartment complex on Alexander Street was heavily damaged following an overnight fire Friday.

According to fire crew members, the incident occurred at a rooming house on 432 Alexander Street. Officials say approximately 20 single-room apartments were affected by the fire.

Several of those rooms sustained heavy damage due to a rapid spread of fire within the structure. Firefighters say escape exits were blocked from the second floor, which could have trapped some residents inside the building.

Investigators believe a vehicle fire near the side entrance of the apartment complex was what caused the fire to spread inside the building.

Authorities say some residents were able to self-evacuate, but others required firefighter assistance. An investigation is currently underway to determine how the vehicle fire began.

RPD officer placed on administrative asgmt. following incident with Monroe Ambulance employee

A Rochester police officer is on administrative assignment following an incident with a Monroe Ambulance employee, officials announced Thursday.

According to police, the incident occurred on July 11 at Strong Memorial Hospital.

Rochester police chief David Smith was notified of the incident and said he immediately directed an internal investigation. Specific details have yet to be released regarding the incident.

‘Not a cause of alarm’: Dr. Mendoza on first monkeypox case in Monroe County

Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza provided an update following the Thursday detection of the area’s first case of monkeypox.

The first case of monkeypox in Monroe County was reported by members of the county’s health department Thursday afternoon. Although unidentified, a local male resident was confirmed to have contracted the virus and is currently isolated, according to public health officials.

“The most important thing to remember here is that this is not a cause of alarm,” Dr. Mendoza said. “This is not another COVID-19 pandemic.”

According to health officials, the risk of contagion for the general public currently remains low.

Older adults, people with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, and children under the age of 8 are at higher risk of experiencing severe symptoms if they contract the virus.

Although monkeypox is not classified as a sexually-transmitted disease, authorities say patterns of exposure show that men who have sex with men are at higher risk of contracting the virus.

“We are not in a crisis, we are asking everyone to stay informed and contact your local health provider if you are at risk,” Dr. Mendoza said.

The commissioner also said it’s important to remember that monkeypox is not a novel virus. Mendoza said there is a lot more knowledge about this virus than we did covid and that the risk of contracting the disease is very minimal.

“People who are not experiencing any of the symptoms, the current assumption is that there is no reason to worry. This is not like other viral illnesses like chickenpox.” The duration of the isolation really depends on that individual’s healing progress — unlike COVID.”

According to Mendoza, the individual who contracted the first case of monkeypox in Monroe County is believed to have traveled outside the area prior to infection.

The Monroe County Health Department listed the following ways that the disease can spread:

  • Direct contact with monkeypox sores or rashes through intimate or skin-to-skin contact
  • Contact with objects or fabrics (e.g., clothing, bedding, towels) that have been used by someone with monkeypox
  • Respiratory droplets or oral fluids from someone with monkeypox; historically, these respiratory droplets can only travel a few feet and are of primary concern among those who have very close or prolonged contact

Officials urge residents who are at higher risk of contracting the virus to ask their sexual partners whether they have a rash or other symptoms consistent with monkeypox.

Symptoms, according to the county’s health department include rashes, bumps, or blisters, along with fever and headaches, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes.

“Unlike COVID it can take longer,” Dr. Mendoza said. “After two weeks of exposure, you can come down with illness, which is what we believe. The best thing you can do is keep track of those around you who you may think have been exposed to the disease.”

Rashes or bumps often occur in the genital or peri-anal area and may take place without fever or other flu-like symptoms, according to officials.

Those experiencing the aforementioned symptoms are asked to stay home.

Where are the vaccines?

According to HHS Data, more than 135,000 vaccine doses have been distributed nationwide Thursday. The doses come from Bavarian Nordic’s JYNNEOS, an FDA-licensed vaccine indicated for the prevention of smallpox and monkeypox.

Doses are available for those who are most at threat, including people with close contact of someone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox, those who have had sex with a partner diagnosed with monkeypox within the past 14 days, and those who have had multiple sex partners in the past 14 days in an area with monkeypox spread, according to the CDC.

Dr. Mendoza said that, in the coming weeks, there may be more capacity to vaccinate the public.

“I anticipate the demand to increase. Certainly, we expect that as more people become exposed to monkeypox, we will see more people who are eligible for the vaccine,” said Dr. Mendoza.

As of Thursday, New York State has received the largest number of monkeypox vaccines per capita. That number accounts for more than three times the U.S. average.

Monroe County health officials have yet to direct residents to a specific vaccine source.

Tops in Buffalo re-opens months after mass shooting

The Tops Friendly Market on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo announced the store will re-open on Friday with added security measures.

The store put in more surveillance, emergency exits, and new lighting in the parking lot, among other security measures after the mass shooting that occurred at the store in May.

The President of Tops, John Persons, did not decide to re-open without revamping security.

“We are the first retail store that we’re aware of — to actually have an emergency evacuation alarm system. If there happens to be an emergency — it is a visual and audio alert that will notify all of our associates and all of our customers that they are to leave the premises right away,” he said.

Persons said 75% of the staff have returned to work since the shooting. The weight of what happened here is still heavy.

“We want our associates to come back to work when they feel ready,” Persons said.

State Attorney General Letitia James, while honoring the victims from May, said today is a significant day for Buffalo. 

“What is so great about today — is really about how this community came together in the aftermath of a tragedy — and they turned pain into progress,” said James.

The Tops President of Operations, Mike Patti, said this area of Buffalo is a ‘food desert’. Access to quality nutrition is scarce and Tops wants to continue its commitment to customers.  

“…So when the tragedy happened, we thought it was absolutely the right thing to do,” said Patti.

Shannon Bryant with Kaleida Health said the well-being of the residents here matters a great deal and much of that starts with food. 

“It’s very difficult to get out of your direct neighborhood to go and access healthy food. So this was necessary,” said Bryant.

Inside the store is a memorial; a ‘water wall’ with a poem etched in stone to honor the 10 victims who were killed. Persons said he wanted to give Buffalo back a store that meant so much while never ignoring what happened here. 

“We wanted to do it in a very respectful and honorable way,” he said.