POAs Pave the Way

The Hospital Clinical Staffing Committees and Disclosure Act — the landmark staffing law establishing clinical staffing committees in all hospitals in New York state — is an enormous step forward toward implementing safe staffing standards in all facilities across the state. The law is fundamentally about equality, and it is incumbent upon us to gather supporting evidence to ensure the clinical staffing standards achieved under the new law allow us to deliver the highest-quality patient care to every New Yorker.

The staffing law calls for “known evidence-based staffing information.” That is precisely what our Protests of Assignments (POAs) provide — evidentiary records completed and signed by NYSNA nurses and delivered to management. I have enormous confidence in our members’ understanding in the key role played by POAs.

NYSNA enters your POAs into our data system (but excises names from POA forms that are distributed to the press). These records have several uses, now including support for clinical staffing standards under the law.

  • The 2021 POAs referenced below (up to and including July) are examples of the kind of evidence-based reporting to effectively underpin our case under the new law. They represent seven hospitals from across the union, public and private.
  • At the first hospital, nurses submitted 236 POAs, which 807 members signed. (Multiple RNs sign most POAs, a very important expression of what each nursing team deems serious shortcomings in care assignments on their unit). “Caseload too high” was indicated on 178 POAs; “inadequate staff” was noted on 197.
  • Nurses at the second hospital, a safety net, submitted 407 POAs. Those POAs were attested to by 1,064 nurses. Fully 324 showed “caseload too high,” and on 333, “inadequate staff” was indicated.
  • Nurses at hospital three, submitted 284 POAs, signed by 756 members. “Caseload to high” was indicated on 212, and 221 showed “inadequate staff.”
  • Another hospital, the fourth, submitted 350 POAs signed by 1,242 nurses. “Caseload too high” was indicated on 255 of the POAs; “inadequate staff” was indicated on 258.
  • At the fifth hospital there are 1,813 POAs, signed by 7,607 members, completed thus far this year. “Caseload too high” was indicated on 1,382 POAs, and “inadequate staff” showed on 1,962.
  • The nurses at a sixth hospital submitted 588 POAs, signed by 2,361 members. “Caseload too high” was indicated on 422, and “inadequate staff” was shown on 432.
  • And at the last, and seventh hospital reviewed, 190 POAs came in with 555 nurse signatures. “Caseload too high” was indicated on 94 and “inadequate staff” on 162.

The POAs also play a key role in bargaining. At Westchester Medical Center, bargaining is set to begin on September 14. “POAs are vital to pinpoint the global issues going on throughout the institution,” said WMC LBU President David Long, RN. “They allow us to address these in real time. They highlight the deficits of management and exemplify the nurses’ need for improved patient care.”

Overall, the POA data from all hospitals staffed by NYSNA nurses show staffing inadequacies attributable to 90% of submissions — that’s a powerful statement for us to make.

Staffing Captains Play a Central Role

There are 3,400 staffing captains carrying out essential roles in our hospitals. They provide staffing data on each unit and each shift – creating frontline nurse-driven data critical to enforcing safe staffing. Under the Staffing Law, the captains take on added importance: They ensure compliance with the staffing terms set forth and agreed upon in the staffing plan and will help define the basis for all state complaint filings. Our goal this year is for each facility to generate and use staffing captains’ reports regularly and that any of the reports that reflect unsafe staffing be accompanied by a Protest of Assignment, giving a complete picture of the unit. Join the roster of staffing captains. To register, click here.

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