Legislation codifies staffing levels in all
general hospitals and nursing homes
Legislation is giant step in bringing equity, quality care
to patients across the state
Bi-Partisan support comes after years of action
by NYSNA members and allies
Albany, NY - The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) today applauds the passage by the New York State Legislature of landmark staffing bills affecting every patient in every hospital and nursing home in the state.
The passage of the bills come on the heels of years of action by members of NYSNA, and, without a doubt, will save lives and ensure that all New Yorkers receive the healthcare they need and deserve.
For the first time in New York State, there will be a process for setting and enforcing safe staffing standards at every hospital and nursing home — regardless of whether the facility is public or private, not-for-profit or for-profit, union or non-union.
For hospitals, the specific bill (A108B/S1168A) will:
- Establish clinical staffing committees including 50% frontline nurses and direct care staff that will set annual safe staffing standards for each unit of a facility. Standards must be expressed in ratios or grids that meet or exceed those set in existing union contracts.
- Make staffing plans enforceable by the Department of Health, with civil penalties against hospitals that fail to create staffing standards and abide by them, effectively making NYSNA-negotiated staffing ratios state law.
- Require the DOH to establish new minimum staffing standards for ICUs and critical care units that must be incorporated in each hospital’s annual staffing plan.
- Make the staffing data publicly available to staff and patients.
- Create an independent commission to study the effectiveness of the new law in improving patient care and nurse staffing levels and make recommendations for further action to the legislature.
For nursing homes, the specific bill (A7119/S6346) will:
- Require all nursing homes to meet minimum staffing levels, expressed in 3.5 hours per resident day, including standards for CNAs, NAs, RNs and LPNs.
- Require at least 2.2 hours of care by certified nursing aides for each resident, and at least 1.1 hours of care by Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical nurses.
“These bills are a major step forward for every patient’s right to safe, quality healthcare,” said NYSNA President Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez. “We will, of course, continue to advocate for our patients and organize around our goal of transforming our healthcare system into one that guarantees equity in healthcare for all New Yorkers. History has taught us that only legally sanctioned, compulsory standards afford the public a pathway to achieve human rights. Quality healthcare is a human right."
The staffing bills were championed by Aileen Gunther in the Assembly and Gustavo Rivera in the State Senate and will take effect on January 1, 2022. Earlier today, NYSNA held a press conference with these bill champions, as well as 1199SEIU and CWA District 1, two other unions who represent nurses and other direct care workers who advocated for this breakthrough legislation.
"These bills are a down payment for the incredible effort that nurses and frontline caregivers made to get New Yorkers through the COVID pandemic,” said Assembly Member Aileen Gunther. “Patients, nursing home residents, and their loved ones need to know they can come to any hospital or nursing home in the state and receive safe, quality care with enough healthcare workers to do the job. Safe staffing will truly save lives, and as a nurse, I'm proud to have passed these reforms. I want to thank all the nurses who fought so long and so hard for these bills.”
Chronic understaffing at New York hospitals and nursing homes, made even more urgent by a healthcare system ill-prepared for COVID-19, is addressed in the two sweeping staffing bills.
NYSNA hailed the bills as moving New York closer to equitable, universal minimum staffing standards for all hospitals and nursing homes. The union is mobilizing facility-based and statewide staffing committees to begin the work of implementing and enforcing these standards when the law goes into effect.
We urge the Governor to immediately sign these bills.
The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) represents more than 42,000 members in New York State. We are New York’s largest union and professional association for registered nurses. For more information, visit nysna.org.