A nurses union said in a study that the healthcare system of Montefiore, which owns Mount Vernon Hospital, reinforces racial health disparities as it expands into the Hudson Valley.
Mark Vergari, Rockland / Westchester Journal News
New York lawmakers set to pass legislation setting minimum staffing levels for hospitals and nursing homes, saying understaffing practices at some facilities have contributed to infections and deaths by COVID-19.
A bill establishes a minimum staffing hours per resident and related provisions for nursing home care statewide. It comes after more than 13,000 New Yorkers have died from complications from COVID-19 in long-term care facilities.
The other bill requires every hospital to create a committee of nurses and administrators to develop a staffing plan. It should include specific guidelines or ratios, matrices or grids indicating the number of patients assigned to each nurse and the number of auxiliary staff in each unit.
Members of the New York State Nurses Union, which represents more than 42,000 nurses statewide, spoke on Tuesday of working in unsafe conditions due to understaffing while battling the COVID-19 during the year.
During the press conference, a nurse described working with three aides to care for 50 residents of a nursing home. Another nurse said the patient-to-staff ratio in her pediatric intensive care unit fell from 1: 1 to 3: 1 during the pandemic.
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Meanwhile, some advocacy groups focused on nursing homes and older New Yorkers, including the AARP and the Community Long-Term Care Coalition, argued that the legislation was understaffed and lacking in provisions. application.
“While this bill is a step in the right direction in creating minimum nursing home staffing ratios where no ratio currently exists, we have several major concerns with this legislation,” the staff said. groups in a joint press release.
“Much more is needed to better protect our seniors residing in nursing homes to ensure they receive the best possible care,” they added.
- Require nursing facilities to have at least one registered nurse to provide 0.75 hours of care per resident per day, knowing that this correlates with better quality outcomes.
- Require a registered nurse to be in the building at all times.
- Demanding facilities maintain all nursing staff at 4.1 hours per day per resident, the threshold identified by a federal study as necessary simply to meet the basic clinical needs of nursing home residents.
- Including clear enforcement guidelines with penalties for facilities not meeting nursing home staffing levels.
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This includes at least 2.2 hours of care per resident per day provided by a certified nursing aide and at least 1.1 hours of care per resident per day provided by a registered nurse.
According to the bill.
“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, New York nursing homes struggled to recruit and retain workers and the pandemic only exacerbated the workforce crisis in the state,” he said. he said in a press release.
“Many nursing homes would appreciate the opportunity to increase staff, however, the workers are not there and the state refuses to fund efforts to recruit and retain workers for fulfilling careers in long-term care. “, he added.
Some patient advocates, however, have argued that the bills should have gone further to impose higher staffing levels and address more issues related to understaffing. They partly cited how this year’s reforms differed from earlier versions of legislation, called the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act, which included specific staffing ratios for hospitals, among other provisions.
In addition, a report from the state Department of Health last year opposed the passage of the staff safety legislation, claiming that New York’s hospitals and nursing homes would have need to hire nearly 70,000 additional nurses and other workers to meet mandatory staffing levels under the bill.
To explain its opposition to the bill, the health ministry report cited the salary costs of new hires, which could exceed $ 4 billion, insufficient labor pools and complex demands on the health system. that require flexibility in staffing.
New York nursing home, hospital reforms
The staffing bills are the latest in a series of attempts by lawmakers to improve care in hospitals and nursing homes.
Nursing home industry reforms include a 5% cap on profits as well as a requirement for facilities to spend at least 70% of their income on direct resident care, according to budget documents.
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Nursing homes must also devote at least 40% of their income to staffing in contact with residents, provided that the amount is included in the expenditure for resident care.
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David Robinson is the health reporter for the USA TODAY New York Network. It can be reached at [email protected] and follow up on Twitter: @DrobinsonLoHud