Taking our message to Albany: Pass the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act

On March 26, more than 1,000 NYSNA RNs and nursing students from across the state brought our message to Albany: Pass the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act to protect patients and nursing practice. Nearly 170 visits with state senators and assembly members later, we know they heard us!

We are fighting for a safe staffing law because it is essential to providing quality care to all. Hospitals put New Yorkers at risk when they force nurses to take on too many patients at once. Studies show that safe staffing laws reduce medical mistakes and hospital injuries and deaths. California passed a safe staffing law, and patient outcomes improved dramatically. (See NYSNA Executive Director Jill Furillo’s article for details.)

We came by bus (more than 30!), car, and train, and from every part of the state, to talk to legislators and their staff. And we had dozens and dozens of constructive conversations about the importance of establishing legally required safe staffing ratios and defending patient safety standards. Last year, we convinced a majority in the New York State Assembly to sign onto our safe staffing bill: This year, we are building on that success and pushing for a majority in the Senate as well.

Building support

Legislatures gave a lot of support for the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act. Here’s just a taste of what NYSNA members heard:

  • Assemblymember Aileen Gunther, representing Sullivan and Orange counties and the only former nurse in the state Legislature, is a co-sponsor of the safe staffing bill and committed to working with the Assembly leadership to push the bill along. She helped write the safe patient handling bill, which just passed (see page 5 for more on this).
  • Assemblymember John Ceretto, representing Niagara Falls and the surrounding area, expressed his support for the bill and was glad to meet with nurses.
  • Assemblymember José Rivera, representing part of the Bronx, told NYSNA members he would talk to fellow members of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus to gain support for safe staffing.
  • Assemblymember Carl Heastie is a co-sponsor of the safe staffing bill and said he is scheduling a meeting with RNs from North Central Bronx and Jacobi hospitals in his Bronx district.  
  • Senator Mark Grisanti, representing parts of Buffalo and western New York, helped write the safe patient handling bill and told RNs that he is supportive of safe staffing.
  • Senator Liz Krueger, representing parts of Manhattan, told us that she’s more than a supporter, she’s a “champion of safe staffing” and will work with us to build support with other legislators and move the bill forward.

We’re keeping the pressure on Albany to do the right thing: Pass the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act and protect nursing practice. And we will not back down. Patient care is just too important to take no for an answer.

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