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Nurses, Medical Center Workers Wait in Limbo

MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. – The announced layoffs at the Westchester Medical Center have turned into a waiting game for many employees whose future at the center remains uncertain.

“The nurses are losing their minds right now,” said Sam Caquias, the collective bargaining unit president for the New York State Nurses Association and a registered nurse at the medical center. “They’re thinking ‘Am I laid off? Am I not laid off? Am I bumping?’ It’s Christmas time and it’s anarchy right now.”

The Medical Center announced in early December that it would be cutting 250 jobs, including 132 nursing positions.  Caquias confirmed that shortly after Dec. 9, nurses began receiving letters that their positions were eliminated. Those with seniority were given options in their severance package to take a vacated position in the center or bump another employee of less experience. However, Caquias said the effective date for the bumps was originally Dec. 19, but that it was never followed through by the center’s management.  He said the union believes Dec. 28 will now be the date in which the nurses will learn their future.

Calls left with representatives with the Westchester Medical Center were not immediately returned Wednesday.

Mary Lou Cahill, the NYSNA representative for the medical center, said the nurses in eliminated positions were mostly offered part-time positions with a significant pay cut.  Overall, she estimates that around 30 to 40 nurses will walk away jobless after the bumping process.

Cahill said in past layoffs at the Medical Center, the process was handled differently.

“When they have made layoffs in the past, the Medical Center has met with NYSNA to look at what would be the most fair way to let people go,” Cahill said.  “They haven’t done that this time.”

As many nurses wait anxiously, Caquias said officials at the Medical Center are acting unprofessional.

“They just completely dropped the ball on this whole process,” Caquias said.  “We just want to make it as easy as possible for those that are losing their jobs and take away the stress from the whole thing.”

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