Legislation to establish safe staffing standards in hospitals and nursing homes clears first hurdle in becoming law
New York – Today the New York State Assembly Health Committee convened to discuss the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act (A108/S1168), a bill recently reintroduced in the state legislature to establish minimum RN, LPN and Aide staffing hours for nursing home residents and minimum safe staffing standards in hospitals.
The bill is gaining more co-sponsors and momentum as the COVID pandemic underscores how important having enough well-trained nurses is to saving lives. The investigation and report release, Nursing Homes’ Response to COVID-19 Pandemic, by the office of Attorney General Tish James, is the latest report to draw attention to the connection between safe staffing and positive patient outcomes. The central finding and core recommendation of the AG’s report is that poor staffing was a major factor in the high death toll in nursing homes, and that New York must enact enforceable, minimum staffing standards, or hours of care per resident.
The Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act passed out of the State Assembly Health Committee today, and is moving ahead to the Codes Committee, a necessary step before the full state legislature can bring the bill to a vote.
The ratios and hours specified in the safe staffing bill are based on peer-reviewed and evidence-based recommendations and will ensure that hospitals and nursing homes are safer and provide higher quality care,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried. “For years, nurses, patients and their families, and others have pushed for passage of the safe staffing bill and now, new reports by both Attorney General Tish James and the US Public Interest Research Group document the dangers of nursing home staff shortages during COVID-19. Lives are at stake. This protection for patient safety is long overdue.”
Lead sponsor of the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act, Assembly Member Aileen Gunther, said: “The Attorney General’s report should be a wake up call to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and in every part of the state. If we want to save lives and ensure safe, quality care for all New Yorkers, we need to enact safe staffing legislation.”
Assembly Member Karines Reyes, RN, said: "As a frontline nurse, I know that safe staffing legislation would improve care throughout our entire healthcare system. As a policy maker, I also know that we must have better oversight of healthcare institutions and enforcement of standards that can protect the public health.”
NYSNA Executive Director Pat Kane, RN, said: “The Attorney General’s report is just the latest piece of evidence that safe staffing standards can ensure equitable, quality healthcare for ALL New Yorkers. Safe staffing would have saved lives in the COVID-19 pandemic in nursing homes and hospitals. Fortunately, the legislature can still take action to prevent harm and make a difference in the lives of patients by passing this bill.”
NYSNA’s full position statement on the Attorney Generals’ report can be found at: https://www.nysna.org/sites/default/files/NYSNAPosition%20_AG%20Report_2020-02-01.pdf
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.