NEW YORK NURSE: May 2010
by Mark Genovese
With New York State’s Nursing Care Quality Protection Act now in effect, registered nurses are urging hospitals and nursing homes to comply with its provisions – for the safety of their patients.
NYSNA discussed the new law at a press conference at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady on March 31.
“I became a nurse because I enjoy helping people,” said Ellis ICU nurse Donna Florkiewicz. “The reality is that many nurses leave nursing because they feel caught between dissatisfied patients and employers who tell them to do more with less support. The Nursing Care Quality Protection Act will benefit nurses by improving the way hospitals look at staffing. Patients are consumers and will now be able to shop for hospital care by comparing nurse-patient ratios among facilities, as well as their safety records and patient complaints.”
“Your nurses cannot possibly meet the demand of caring for nine or more patients at once and providing the quality of care each patient deserves,” said Michele Draves, a recent patient at Ellis, noting that patients can also experience frustration as a result of insufficient staffing. “You wake up in your room, in so much pain that you cannot even call for help. Your family must go find someone to help you. When your nurse arrives, she is so unbelievably stressed that she bursts into tears. Will I be asking questions next time I’m scheduled for care at Ellis? Of course I will. Because under New York State’s new ‘disclosure law, I have a right to get the answers.”
Also addressing the need for similar federal legislation was the president of the National Federation of Nurses.
Gov. David Paterson signed the Nursing Care Quality Protection Act into law on Sept. 16, 2009. The law took effect on March 15, 2010, and affects hospitals, diagnostic and treatment centers, hospices, and other facilities licensed under Article 28 of the state public health law.
Under the law each facility must report nursing quality indicators, such as:
“Our members should be proud that their diligence and perseverance over the past several years, lobbying our legislature, educating others and advocating for their patients, has resulted in this landmark measure and that nurse staffing is being given the value and recognition it deserves,” said Tina Gerardi, chief executive officer of the Nurses Association.
“This law recognizes that the public has a right to know how hospitals are staffing their units. But now, it is up to us all, healthcare providers and patients alike, to take up the task of monitoring the way this law is implemented and enforced. We have confidence that facilities, like Ellis Hospital, will comply with the law and make available information that the public has a right to know when making decisions about where to receive their health care.”