The New York State Nurses Association ‘Applauds The Passage Of Landmark’ Safe Staffing Bills In The NYS Legislature - Legislation ‘Codifies Staffing Levels In All’ General Hospitals & Nursing Homes
(ALBANY, NEW YORK) - The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) is hailing the passage by the New York State Legislature of landmark Staffing Bills affecting every patient in every hospital and nursing home in the state.
The passage of the Bills comes on the heels of years of action by NYSNA Membership, and, without a doubt, will save lives and ensure that all New Yorkers receive the health care they need and deserve, NYSNA Representatives said.
For the first time in New York State, there will be a process for setting and enforcing safe Staffing Standards at every hospital and nursing home - regardless of whether the facility is public or private, not-for-profit or for-profit, Union or Non-Union.
For hospitals, the specific Bill (A108B/S1168A) will:
Establish Clinical Staffing Committees including 50% Front Line Nurses and Direct Care Staff that will set annual Safe Staffing Standards for each unit of a facility. Standards must be expressed in ratios or grids that meet or exceed those set in existing union contracts.
Make staffing plans enforceable by the New York State Department of Health (DOH), with civil penalties against hospitals that fail to create staffing standards and abide by them, effectively making NYSNA-negotiated Staffing Ratios State Law.
Require the DOH to establish new minimum Staffing Standards for Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and Critical Care Units that must be incorporated in each hospital’s annual staffing plan.
Make staffing data publicly available to Staff and patients.
Create an independent commission to study the effectiveness of the new law in improving patient care and Nurse Staffing Levels and make recommendations for further action to the Legislature.
For nursing homes, the specific Bill (A7119/S6346) will:
Require all nursing homes to meet minimum staffing levels, expressed in 3.5 hours per resident day, including standards for Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), Nurse Aides (NAs), Registered Nurses (RNs) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs).
Require at least 2.2 hours of care by CNAs for each resident, and at least 1.1 hours of care by RNs and LPNs.
“These bills are a major step forward for every patient’s right to safe, quality health care,” NYSNA President Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez said. “We will, of course, continue to advocate for our patients and organize around our goal of transforming our health care system into one that guarantees equity in health care for all New Yorkers. History has taught us that only legally sanctioned, compulsory standards afford the public a pathway to achieve human rights. Quality health care is a human right."
The Staffing Bills were championed by Aileen Gunther in the Assembly and Gustavo Rivera in the State Senate and will take effect on January 1st, 2022.
NYSNA held a press conference with these Bill champions, as well as with 1199 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and Communications Workers of America (CWA) District 1 - two other Unions that represent Nurses and other Direct Care Workers who advocated for this breakthrough legislation.
Chronic understaffing at New York hospitals and nursing homes, made even more urgent by a health care system ill-prepared for COVID-19, is also addressed in the two sweeping Staffing Bills.
NYSNA - which represents more than 42,000 members in New York State, hailed the Bills as moving New York closer to equitable, universal minimum Staffing Standards for all hospitals and nursing homes.
Now, the Union - New York’s largest Union and Professional Association for RNs, is mobilizing facility-based and Statewide Staffing Committees to begin the work of implementing and enforcing these standards when the law goes into effect.
NYSNA is urging Governor Andrew Cuomo to immediately sign the two Bills.