Unions, Patient Rights Groups and Lawmakers representing tens of thousands of New Yorkers call on the New York State Senate to pass the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 15, 2016
Contact: Tara Martin | E-mail: tara.martin@nysna.org | Cell: 646-334-8146

New York State Assembly Passes The Bill With Historic Tuesday Night Vote

Support Continues To Grow Across The State As A Senate Vote Comes Down To The Wire

Albany, NY - One day after the New York State Assembly passed the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act, and with petitions signed by more than 30,000 New Yorkers, Unions and Patient Rights Groups representing tens of thousands of New Yorkers from across the state stood in front of the Senate doors in Albany calling on Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and the New York State Senate to take action on the Safe Staffing bill.

The Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act is a bipartisan bill in the State Legislature with wide support, that calls on hospitals to maintain a responsible number of nurses to patients.

Thirty three members of the State Senate are now sponsors.

Joined by State Representatives, Unions and Patient Rights Groups demanded the State Senate bring the bill to a floor vote before the legislative session ends on Thursday.

New York is facing a staffing crisis in hospitals across the state. Nurses are being forced to care for more patients by hospital administrators who are pushing nurses and patients to the limit. In fact, most New Yorkers are unaware that there isn’t a law that currently exists that places a limit to how many patients one nurse can care for at one time.

In some cases, nurses in New York are being forced to handle over a dozen patients at one time. When that happens, patients suffer. Studies show the risk of patient death increases by 7% for each new patient a nurse must care for.

The legislation will save lives by ensuring that there are an adequate number of nurses at the bedside of patients inside New York hospitals. Among other things, this legislation will:

  • Establish safe nurse to patient ratios for nurses in units at all New York hospitals.
  • Require hospitals to staff units using nurses that are trained for care in that unit. For example, nurses in the ER should be trained in ER care.
  • Require hospitals to be more transparent about their staffing levels.
  • Set a maximum number of patients a nurse is responsible for at any given time.

Support for the Safe Staffing Legislation has never been stronger or louder.

“Safe Staffing is likely one of the most common-sense measures before the legislature. It stands to reason, that the more patients nurses have to take on, their ability to devote the time and attention needed to guarantee the best care possible diminishes. The quality of healthcare in New York is largely determined by the quality of its nurses. Anything that hinders their ability to wholly devote themselves to the welfare of those in their care is a hindrance we are obligated to address. It’s time to pass the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act,” said Senator Martin Malavé Dilan.

Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson stated, “I support the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act because I know how important it is for New Yorkers to receive the best care possible when they visit the hospital. Right now, nurses are being forced to take care of up to a dozen patients at one time. When this happens, both patients and nurses suffer. It is our job as legislators to protect New Yorkers, and this bill takes the necessary steps in making sure our hospitals are as safe as they can be for both patients and nurses.”

“When you find yourself in the hospital, you want to be sure that no corners are being cut in the care you receive. Nurses are on the front lines of that care, but too often they are dangerously overworked, forced to care for more patients than they can safely manage. The Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act will protect patients by ensuring hospitals have enough nurses to meet their needs. I urge the Senate Majority leadership to let this bill come to a vote,” said Senator Liz Krueger.

“I co-sponsored the Safe Staffing Act because I believe it is important that patients receive the best care possible, and that our nurses receive the support they deserve for the vital role they perform in our healthcare system. I would urge my colleagues in the State Senate to act on this legislation, which will improve the care New Yorkers receive in hospitals or long-term care facilities,” said Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi of Utica.

“As a daughter of a Registered Nurse with more than 40 years of experience, I witnessed her workload that required precision and quality of care to her patients. I fully support the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act and am pleased that it gained the traction in the people’s house. Now it is necessary that the Senate take the baton to ensure its passage. In order to provide the care our constituents deserve state wide,” said Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman.

Karen Scharff, Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York said, “No patient in a hospital or nursing home should be left without care simply because the facility doesn’t have enough nurses on staff. We applaud Speaker Heastie and the Assembly for passing Safe Staffing legislation that will save New Yorkers’ lives.”

“The NYS senate needs to act now. It is agony for our nurses ­ not taking breaks and still feeling helpless and guilty when they cannot give the care they know patients deserve because there simply is not enough of them at the bedside. Our members’ concern is for the patients and their families that expect and deserve excellence. The NYS senate needs to put patients first and pass the state staffing bill,” said Deborah Hayes, Upstate NY/NE/CT Area Director, CWA.

Barry A. Kaufmann, President, New York Alliance for Retired Americans stated, “On behalf of the 440,000 seniors that are represented by the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans, the issues of chronic under-staffing and low nurse-to-patient ratios are alarming and real. Ignoring nurses’ concerns for the well being of their patients is both egregious and ill advised. It is imperative that the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act be passed to protect citizens of all ages across New York State. The New York State Alliance for Retired Americans know that passing this legislation is literally a life and death matter for many of our members. There is no more important function of government than to do every thing in their power to address the health and welfare of its constituents. We urge the New York State Senate and the 33 co-sponsors of this bill, which represent a majority of the Senate, to take action and pass this bill before the end of session.”

“This is a historic moment for patients, families and nurses in New York. The New York State Assembly demonstrates great leadership in the passage of the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act. This legislation provides that every unit of every hospital in the state will be assured of enough nurses to care for patients. Now it is up to the State Senate to show leadership as well,” said Pat Kane, RN, Staten Island University Hospital and Treasurer, New York State Nurses Association.

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The NYS Campaign for Patient Safety is a coalition of consumer, labor, patient advocacy and community organizations committed to fighting for the highest quality patient care for New York’s hospital and nursing home patients. We believe one of the most critical aspects of ensuring quality patient care is implementing minimum standards for how many patients a single nurse can treat at one time. That’s why we are supporting the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act. To learn more, please check out our website: www.campaignforpatientsafety.org.

About NYSNA

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