Senator Sanders Playing Politics With New Jersey Patient Care

At 60Plus, our primary focus is ensuring patients are receiving quality care. Vermont Senator Sanders’ “field hearing” in New Brunswick, New Jersey this week shows us that he is playing politics with patient’s care. 

Senator Sanders recently criticized RWJ University Hospital, calling into question how they “could afford $87 million on traveling nurses since the strike began, but somehow cannot afford to mandate safe staffing ratios to improve the lives of patients and health care workers.” It is worth emphasizing that due to the United Steelworkers Union continually moving the goalpost, RWJUH is forced to allocate $87 million for travel nurses to maintain the delivery of high-quality patient care throughout New Jersey. It’s equally important to underscore that RWJUH has one of the best patient-to-nurse staffing ratios in the state and has a consistent track record of delivering top-tier care to its patients. Despite this, they’ve continuously for weeks offered higher pay and better staffing rates to get their nurses back to patients. 

While Senator Sanders is busy using the Steelworkers Union strike to play political games, he’s simultaneously turning a blind eye to the glaring healthcare issues plaguing his own state of Vermont – recently likened to a “village on fire.” Vermont is currently suffering a severe nurses shortage – forcing the hospital to rely on travel nurses unlike RWJ University Hospital who is utilizing travel nurses due to union greed. Vermont also ranks 13th least prepared for a crisis, while New Jersey is 45th, and nurses in Senator Sanders’ own state are making an average of $17K less than NJ nurses.

Senator Sanders should address the pressing problems in his home state before he tries to exploit non-issues in New Jersey for political gain. It is high time for the Steelworkers Union to cease their picketing, negotiate in good faith, and prioritize the well-being of patients.