NYSNA RNs spearheaded a statewide day of action for safe staffing in honor of National Nurses Day on May 6. Elected leaders and patient advocates joined nurses at rallies and press conferences throughout the state calling on the New York State legislature to pass the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act.
From east to west, north to south, in Buffalo, Long Island, Schenectady, Westchester, the Bronx, and Brooklyn, the message was the same: safe staffing saves lives!
Widespread public support
November 2015 statewide poll found 85% of New Yorkers support capping the number of patients a nurse can take on at one time. In recent weeks, the City of Utica, Rockland County and the Village of Kenmore (Erie County) have added their names to the growing list of municipalities that have passed resolutions urging the State Legislature to pass the safe staffing bill.
Newly-elected State Senator Todd Kaminsky (D, 9) spoke at the Long Island action, stating, “I’m proud to be a co-sponsor of the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act because New Yorkers deserve a law that establishes a limit on the number of patients a nurse can be assigned, and nurses deserve the assurance of knowing that they have the capacity to provide quality care.”
“I hear from healthcare workers, patients and family alike that we need more nurses at the bedside. Experience and research agree that safe staffing really does save lives,” Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D, 141) said from the podium at the Buffalo rally.
At Brooklyn Borough Hall, Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon (D, 52) went straight to the heart of the matter when she said, “If you’ve ever been a patient, you know how important it is to have the attention of your nurse.” She added, “Safe staffing makes sense, and it makes dollars and cents. In the long run, it will save the industry money,” through reduced readmissions, improved outcomes, higher reimbursement, lower staff injury rates and better nurse retention.
“As a trained occupational therapist, I have seen firsthand the importance of safe staffing levels in our hospitals,” Senator Tim Kennedy (D, 63) told the Buffalo gathering. “Safe staffing will further improve patient care, while providing nurses and other healthcare workers with the support they need to perform their physically demanding duties.”
Staffing bill benefits everyone
Sijjad Khan, an RN in Brooklyn Hospital’s Emergency Department, spoke passionately about the need for safe staffing legislation. “There are days when each ER nurse has 20 patients. How can one nurse take care of 20 patients? It forces nurses to make choices no one should ever have to make.” He reiterated the importance of the legislation in the fight to protect patients and to improve patient care outcomes. “Only with legislated ratios can nurses give the care that we want to be able to give. Passing this act will benefit everyone: not just you, not just me, but everyone.”