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Syracuse, NY – State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras announced that SUNY System Administration approved an annual pay and benefits increase for the 1,648 teaching and research center nurses at Upstate Medical University. Recognizing the tireless commitment of the nursing staff, SUNY and Upstate Medical University worked closely with the New York State Public Employees Federation to finalize the agreement. Chancellor Malatras, Upstate Medical President Dr. Mantosh Dewan, and PEF President Wayne Spence celebrated the achievements of the nursing team as they announced the raise.
Under the leadership of Chief Nursing Officer Nancy Page, Upstate Medical’s team went above and beyond the call of duty during New York State’s battle again the pandemic, some traveling to those hardest-hit locations in New York City and Long Island for long stretches of time. In April 2020, 46 nurses helped SUNY’s hospital in Stony Brook University as more patients needed care from the disease. As cases increased in the Central New York region later on it was all-hands-on-deck helping patients, testing individuals, and eventually providing the life-saving COVID-19 vaccines as they became available.
“During the pandemic, Upstate demonstrated why SUNY has the most talented health professionals in the world, especially our nurses,” said Chancellor Malatras. “The nurses at Upstate Medical are our heroes every day, and we can’t thank them enough—they are the heartbeat of healthcare. And, while we are pleased to provide this annual pay and benefits increase, we will continue to seek ways to reward their excellence. My thanks to President Dewan and PEF President Spence for their partnership in making that happen.”
The increase in compensation is part of SUNY’s and Upstate Medical’s efforts to increase the retention of nurses, and thereby continue the hospital’s high-level of care. The raise provides between $2,000 and $3,500 additional compensation a year for nurses.
Upstate Medical President Dewan, MD, said, “Our nurses were and continue to be on the frontlines of this historic pandemic and have been the backbone of our care. Not only have they provided medical treatment, but they have been at the bedside to calm and comfort—and in many ways to stand in for families who could not visit their loved ones.“
PEF President Spence said, “We are grateful to SUNY leadership for their partnership in helping us reward our tireless PEF nurses, who acted so selflessly to care for others during this pandemic. I especially appreciate SUNY for stepping up and just doing it—we didn’t have to convince them. They did it because it’s right and because nurses deserve it. They are the true heroes of COVID-19 and we simply can’t thank them enough for putting patients first when the need for care was so great.”
Since 2014, Chief Nursing Officer Page has served as the nursing team’s top officer, rising in the ranks since joining Upstate Medical in 1982 in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Chief Nursing Officer Page earned her bachelor’s in nursing from SUNY’s medical university in Brooklyn, SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University.
Chief Nursing Office Page said, “This has been an amazing year for our nursing staff. We cared for COVID patients, helped our fellow nurses at Stonybrook, and achieved one of the highest accolades—Magnet designation—for our nursing care and quality. Nurses at Upstate have gone above and beyond every day with their time and commitment to Upstate and our patients.“
Michael Casey, RN, a PEF-represented nurse in pediatric hematology oncology, thanked PEF and Upstate leadership for the recognition and support, especially in such a trying year. “Recognition is nice and helpful, what motivates us most, and the reason we do what we do, is our patients,” he said.
In December 2020, Upstate Medical was chosen as a regional vaccination hub for Central New York and Chief Nursing Officer Page administered the first vaccines at the SUNY hospital to employees Kenzo Mukendi, Caprice Hibbler, and Suzanne Buck.
Upstate University Hospital Chief Executive Officer Dr. Robert Corona said, “Upstate’s success in caring for our COVID patients and keeping others safe is directly related to our outstanding nursing staff. As the situation grew more critical, these nurses never wavered in their role and commitment to providing the best possible care for their patients.”
While Upstate Medical served New Yorkers during the pandemic, the nursing staff applied for and earned the prestigious Magnet designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the highest honor a healthcare organization can receive for nursing excellence and patient care. They were designated this distinction in January 2021.
As much as the team has been recognized, so have individuals. As recently as last week, three Upstate Medical University employees were honored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation as Champions of Humanistic Care for going above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic. Honorees included nurses Diane Nanno, director of nursing for Upstate Transitional Care Services, and Crystal Marshall, assistant nurse manager of a COVID-19 floor at Upstate Medical’s downtown hospital.