NYS legislature takes up nursing home, hospital staffing bills

New York State

FILE – In this March 18, 2021, file photo, Mary Claire Lane, 86, left, a resident at Hellenic Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, in Canton, Mass., is greeted by her daughter Anne Darling, of Attleboro, Mass., center, during a visit, at the nursing home, in Canton. Nursing homes have to publicly disclose their vaccination rates for flu and pneumonia, but there’s no similar mandate for COVID-19 shots. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) – The New York State legislature is taking up legislation aimed at boosting staffing in nursing homes and hospitals. 

“I know that we are doing the right thing for not only nurses across New York State, but also for the patients we care so dearly about,” said Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther who is sponsoring legislation that would set nursing home staffing levels and create clinical staffing committees at hospitals.

Nurses from across the state say while the pandemic has highlighted the issue, they’ve been pushing for safe staffing for years. “We have to stop skipping our breaks and lunches and staying after without pay and not telling anyone what’s happening, said RN and CWA member Sarah Buckely.

The first piece of legislation calls for hospitals to create clinical staffing committees to come up with staffing plans. The committees must include front line workers like nurses, as well as general hospital administration staff. The other piece of legislation sets a standard of 3.5 hours of care per patient per day at nursing homes.

But, the nursing home staffing proposition has been criticized by the New York State Health Facilities Association. In a statement President and CEO Stephen Hanse said: “… we oppose this one-size fits all legislation because it ignores the fact that New York does not have enough qualified workers to meet the mandate and it fails to provide enough funding to pay for the costs of the mandate…”

Through the state budget last month lawmakers passed other nursing home legislation including repealing an immunity measure given at the start of the pandemic, and a cap on profits.

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