NEW YORK NURSE: August 2012
“Our time is now.”
That’s what Anthony Ciampa, RN, told over 300 NYSNA members and guests from other unions and community groups who came together to make a plan to win safe nurse-to-patient ratios in New York state.
Members laid out a coordinated, statewide plan to win that includes:
Educating other nurses, community members, and lawmakers about the staffing crisis — and the need for a legislative solution.
Documenting and addressing staffing problems in our hospitals.
Reaching out to community groups, religious leaders, and other unions for support.
Delivering tens of thousands of pledge cards to Albany in November – to let our lawmakers know safe staffing better be on their agenda for the 2013 legislative session.
NYSNA nurses are a strong voice for safe staffing legislation.
And we’re reaching out to other unions and community groups. It’s a team effort, and our partners turned out in force on July 24: nurses and other members came from SEIU Local 1199, the New York Professional Nurses Union, the Communication Workers of America, the Public Employees Federation, the NY State United Teachers, the United Federation of Teachers.
Allies came from Citizen Action, New York’s premier progressive grassroots organization, and the Center for Working Families, a think tank leading the way on research and policies to help working New Yorkers.
Nurses came from out of state too: the Health Professionals and Allied Employees from New Jersey, the Massachusetts Nurses Association, and National Nurses United.
Every nurse has a role to play in this campaign: some big, some small, all important.
Sign the pledge card and let other NYSNA members know you’re ready to do your part.
Together, we will win the safe staffing our patients deserve.
The Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act is legislation proposed in both the New York Assembly and Senate that would establish safe nurse-to-patient ratios.
Here’s what’s in the bill as written now. The terms of the bill could change – for better or worse – and it’s up to us to push for the best possible language in any amendments.
The bill establishes nurse to patient ratios by unit. No nurse can be assigned responsibility for more patients than the specific ratio. Hospitals that violate the law will face civil penalties.
Staffing for acuity
The ratios set a floor, not a ceiling. Hospitals are required to make a staffing plan that addresses changes in patient acuity by staffing as patient needs dictate.
Hospitals cannot count assistive personnel toward ratios
Assistive personnel do not count toward the licensed nurse-to-patient ratios. Hospitals are required to provide a sufficient level of assistive personnel.
Hospitals must disclose staffing levels to the public.
The ratios are the maximum number of patients assigned to any RN at all times during a shift – not an average.
The law requires hospitals to staff units using nurses with a demonstrated competence in that clinical area, and who have undergone an orientation for that clinical practice.
In nursing homes, the bill phases in minimum staff-to-patient care hours for RNs, as well as LPNs and CNAs, and requires public disclosure of staffing levels.
Additional legislation is needed to ensure adequate nurse staffing in schools, for home care, and in dialysis clinics not located within a hospital. NYSNA will advocate for laws to protect every patient.
Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work for safe staffing? NYSNA’s Safe Staffing Toolkit helps you get started:
To get your complimentary copy, e-mail your address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
These ratios are specified in the current version of the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act
All intensive care — 1:1
Emergency critical care — 1:1
Trauma emergency unit — 1:1
Operating room — 1:1
Post-anesthesia care — 1:2
Labor – stage 1 — 1:2
Labor – stages 2 and 3 — 1:1
Antepartum — 1:3
Non-critical antepartum — 1:4
Newborn nursery — 1:3
Postpartum couplets — 1:3
Well-baby nursery — 1:6
Pediatrics — 1:3
Emergency department — 1:3
Step-down & telemetry — 1:3
Medical/surgical — 1:4
Acute care psychiatric — 1:4
Rehabilitation units — 1:5
“We are sick and tired of what our patients face.
“Too many understaffed units. Too few registered nurses.
“Too many services being privatized by Michael Bloomberg and his cronies.
“Too few resources for the people that need those resources the most.
“These things are wrong, and it’s time for us to fix them. Let’s fix them together.”
— Clare Miguel, RN, Bellevue Hospital, New York
“We are gearing up for the major fight for our generation of nurses and caregivers.
“We are going up against health care power brokers, who have been ripping us off for too long.
“We are going up against the 1-Percenters, who want to privatize our public hospitals and squeeze every penny out of the private hospitals - and it’s our patients and nurses they want to pay the price.
“Here’s our message to the power brokers and the privatizers - We’re taking you on.”
— Anthony Ciampa, RN, New York-Presbyterian
“Administration wants to blame nurses for staffing problems – even when they don’t plan for the usual number of sick calls.
“If you want to improve staffing in your hospital – you can start right now. We are.
“You have to do the work, collect the info, and build up your case.”
— Tracy Kosciuk, RN, St. Charles Hospital, Port Jefferson, N.Y.
“It’s all about patient care. When we don’t have enough nurses, the patient is going to suffer. That’s why we need to pass this law.”
— Karen Faraci, RN, Catskill Regional Medical Center