Unions united for safe staffing

Hundreds of NYSNA members were joined by nurses and other healthcare providers from four unions in Albany on May 20 to let elected leaders know that nurses statewide agree: safe staffing saves lives.

Our unprecedented show of solidarity at last month’s Lobby Day sent a clear message to lawmakers that New York’s nurses are united in their support for passage of the “Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act,” Bill A6571.

“This is about the rights of patients to receive safe, quality care each and every time they access the healthcare system,” NYSNA President Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez told legislators and participants. “We will continue to defend our patients in the Capitol, in our hospitals, in our communities, until we have a law that mandates minimum nurse to patient ratios.”

Safe staffing saves lives, money

The nurse coalition included 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, Public Employee Federation (PEF), New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) Healthcare Professionals, and Communications Workers of America (CWA). Equipped with research from California’s successful experience implementing safe staffing ratios, we met with legislators and their aides to convince them to support the bill.

We told our stories of understaffed units, discussed the many studies showing greater patient outcomes with safe staffing ratios and demonstrated that, far from triggering closings due to greater costs, save staffing can lead to savings through curtailing expensive readmissions.

Our voices are being heard: while we were in our meetings, we received word that the bill had passed the Assembly Health Committee! Next, it’s on to the Codes Committee.

Staffing level studies show:

  • Deaths occur when the nurse to patient ration increases – by even one patient
  • Complications increase in direct proportion to a decrease in nurse staffing
  • Readmissions increase in frequency with fewer nurses at the bedside.

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