Nurses Unhappy Over New Rule Requiring White Uniforms

A local hospital network has implemented a controversial new rule requiring nurses to wear white uniforms.

Hospital officials in the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health hospital system say white scrub tops help differentiate the nurses from other staffers and that nurses will still be able to wear blue pants.

"Patients want to be able to recognize who the nurses are, so wearing a uniform such as a white uniform will stand out and be easily identifiable," said Deirdre O'Flaherty, director of nursing at the Lenox Hill Hospital.

But Eileen Toback of the New York Professional Nurses Union said white won't wash with a lot of its members.

"Nurses get stains all over, pretty much every day, for the work that they do," said Toback. "In addition, it can be potentially see-through. And nurses also have an issue with the more archaic history of nursing [uniforms]." 

Photos of nurses uniforms from the 1880s show the structured white dresses they wore. Since then, uniforms have come a long way to accommodate function and comfort, giving way to loose-fitting scrubs. 

At B&R Uniforms on Second Avenue, workers say the most popular choice is a traditional scrub top in light or dark blue, and some who work with the very young or old prefer patterned prints.

The dress code will apply to all 10,000 nurses in the North Shore-LIJ system, including those at Lenox Hill.

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