More than 7,000 nurses went on strike Monday at two New York City hospitals. Pay and staffing levels were the two major issues that compelled around 3,600 nurses to walk off the job at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. Another 3,500 nurses went on strike at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, according to CBS. “We are not out here for wages. We are out here because we want patient safety,” nurse Lorena Vivas said as she walked outside Mount Sinai, according to The New York Times. Vivas, an intensive care nurse, said she was often caring for three or four patients when she should be limited to one or two patients at a time. “This has been going on even before the pandemic, and the pandemic just blew the whole thing open,” she said. Johnaira Dilone-Florian, a nurse practitioner, said that safety was being ignored while picketing outside of Montefiore. “It’s unsafe because, in the emergency room, how can a nurse safely monitor 20 patients? Anything can go wrong. We are human. We’re not machines,” she said. Leslie Worona, who has been at Mount Sinai for seven years, said the emergency room there was also troubled, according to CBS. “The ER is completely overwhelmed. Some of the nurses can have 17 patients. In the ER, you’re not waiting to see a doctor for regular routine visit. You’re there because there is an acute problem and you need medical attention, and if the nurse can’t get to you, it’s a problem,” Worona said. The New York State Nurses Association said nurses had been pushed to the limit, according to CBS. “Nurses don’t want to strike. Bosses have pushed us to strike by refusing to seriously consider our proposals to address the desperate crisis of unsafe staffing that harms our patients,” the union said in a statement Sunday. As the strike continues, both hospitals have transferred patients to other facilities, postponed non-emergency medical procedures and staffed their hospitals with temporary workers. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul called for binding arbitrarion to settle the dispute. By way of a reply, the union said Hochul “should listen to the frontline COVID-19 nurse heroes and respect our federally-protected labor and collective bargaining rights.” Nurses said the low pay and vacancy issues are linked. “We happen to have some of the lowest base pay of any New York City hospital, so it’s just not an attractive place for nurses to come and stay. We have 500 vacancies, which is the most from anywhere else,” nurse Marina Pushkash of Mount Sinai said, according to CBS. Fellow Mount Sinai nurse Lilia Espinoza said nurses have more work than they can bear. “I work in a [medical surgical] unit. Typically your ratio should be about one to five. My nurses have been working with one to seven, one to eight, one to nine, with alarming frequency, and our patient acuity has only gone up. Patients are getting sicker, and it’s not safe,” she said. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.