May 2, 2020 / 5:30 AM / 2 months ago

U.S. court dismisses New York nurses case against Montefiore for COVID-19 protection

(Reuters) - A Manhattan federal judge on Friday dismissed a nurse association’s lawsuit against a New York City hospital for allegedly failing to provide safety equipment and adopt measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

FILE PHOTO: Nurses at Montefiore Medical Center Moses Division hospital hold a protest demanding N95 masks and other critical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to handle patients during the outbreak coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Bronx borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 2, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid

The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) sued Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, saying among other things that the hospital was ignoring requirements that healthcare workers receive an N95 respirator mask daily.

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan on Friday granted Montefiore’s motion to dismiss the case, saying he lacked authority to address the nurses’ concerns.

But he urged both sides to “continue their efforts to reach an amicable resolution of their disputes.”

“Lives may hang in the balance, and the NYSNA nurses deserve as much.”

The judge said the parties were “in a better position than either the Court or an arbitrator to find the best ways to achieve that goal despite limited resources and ever-changing circumstances.”

“Both sides presumably share the ultimate goal of maximizing protections for healthcare workers on the front lines of the battle against a vicious disease without compromising patient care,” the judge wrote.

Susan Davis, NYSNA’s general counsel, said that since the lawsuit was filed Montefiore has made several “significant changes,” including giving nurses a fit-tested N95 mask daily, restoring their sick days and expanding testing.

“Everything they have done is the result of nurses fighting for safe working conditions, and they will continue to do so,” Davis said.

The nurses’ association has also sued the New York Department of Health and Westchester Medical Center. Those actions are pending.

As of May 1, more than 164,000 people in the state have tested positive for COVID-19, with about 13,000 confirmed deaths.

(This story corrects to show ruling refers only to Montefiore hospital, judge’s name; adds comment from nurses’ counsel)

Reporting by Aakriti Bhalla in Bengaluru; Editing by Tom Hogue and Daniel Wallis

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