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Surrounding hospitals feel the pressure as Mercy Hospital strike continues

The strike at Mercy Hospital is still going on as Catholic Health and CWA negotiations continue.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The pressure is mounting for surrounding hospitals as the strike at Mercy Hospital continues.

Negotiations between Catholic Health and CWA Local 1133 union leaders are ongoing. As of yet, neither part can agree on common ground when it comes to issues such as staffing, patient care, and wages. 

On Tuesday afternoon, state lawmakers and the president of New York's largest union, the AFL-CIO, joined the chants outside the hospital in support of those on strike.

"This is a time and a place to stand up for what they believe in," said AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento.

The problem is, until an agreement is met, other hospitals have to pick up the slack and they're already under tough circumstances due to COVID-19.

Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) is seeing record high admission numbers. The trauma center's emergency room is extremely limited when it comes to bed space and wait times are getting longer and longer.

In an effort to help with staffing shortages, ECMC is mitigating services like in-patient elective surgeries.

Kaleida Health is also navigating tough waters.

CEO Bob Nesselbush sent out a memo to staff via email last week thanking them for their perseverance and patience, but he didn't shy away from being transparent about how the Mercy Hospital strike is impacting things.

"When you look across the entire Kaleida Health footprint, we face challenge," the memo states. "There are staffing challenges and service line changes in the Southern Tier. Buffalo General Medical Center is seeing record high volumes in the ER, inpatient admissions as well as daily discharges. Oishei Children's Hospital is seeing high ER volumes, not to mention an additional four to six deliveries a day."

Even Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center is stepping up.

CEO Joe Ruffalo tells 2 On Your Side, the hospital is full and because beds are unavailable in Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo they are taking in patients. The problem is, things over in Niagara County aren't much different. Ruffalo says, traveling agencies are becoming a life life - an expensive one. 

"We're now paying these agencies twice as much per hour than what they were charging six months ago," Ruffalo says. Which is why he's now pushing for legislation to help regulate these agencies. 

The CWA is now paying members on strike $300. If things continue, on day 29, weekly payments will increase to $400.