ALBANY, NY - Hundreds of nurses represented by New York State United Teachers will rally Tuesday at the state Capitol for the passage of legislation that would increase staffing levels at acute-care facilities, enhance the safety of patient handling and ensure New York's largest urban school districts have at least one nurse in every school building.
Joined by hundreds of unionized health workers represented by NYSUT's largest local, the United Federation of Teachers, as well as the Communications Workers of America and the Public Employees Federation, the nurses will lobby state lawmakers from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
A rally on the west side steps of the Capitol will also be held at 11:30 a.m.
"Assuring that health care facilities are adequately staffed and that students have access to nursing services while at school are not only common-sense measures, they are essential to ensuring all segments of New York's population have access to quality care. State lawmakers have an obligation to ensure such care is available," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi.
NYSUT Vice President Kathleen Donahue, who leads the union's health care and health and safety programs, added: "Our health care workers are dedicated and knowledgeable professionals who should not have their hands tied when it comes to performing their jobs. The legislation sought by our members and their colleagues is critical in ensuring that the best health care possible is being delivered to patients in their charge. It is also critical in assuring their own safety."
Ann Converso, a registered nurse and CWA representative, said health care workers - who now must manually lift, turn and reposition patients - are routinely injured on the job. New patient-handling legislation, which would incorporate the use of modern equipment and do away with manual patient-lift methods, would not only protect both workers and patients, but also assure high-quality care, she said.
PEF President Ken Brynien said legislation requiring adequate staffing levels would do the same.
"Inadequate staffing creates a real risk to patient health and safety, and drives nurses out of the profession," he said. "If our nurses are to continue to provide high-quality patient care, safe-staffing ratios must be addressed."
Here is a list of the specific bills that nurses and health care workers will be urging lawmakers to pass:
A921 Gottfried/S4553 Hannon: "Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act" - Requires acute care facilities and nursing homes to implement certain direct-care nurse to patient ratios in all nursing units; sets minimum staffing requirement.
A1370-B Lancman /S2470-B Maziarz: "NYS Safe Patient Handling Task Force" - Creates a Statewide Safe Patient Handling policy for all health care facilities in New York state; establishes a state task force to devise recommendations for improving safe-patient handling standards and seeks to replace the practice of manually lifting patients with safe-patient handling techniques.
A410 Gunther/S5154 Grisanti: Hours Worked by Home Care Nurses - Restricts consecutive hours of required work by nurses in the home care setting except in emergencies; does not prohibit a nurse from voluntarily working overtime.
A1753 Gunther/S4557 Robach: Minimum School Nurse Staffing Standards - Requires the New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers and Syracuse school districts to employ at least one school nurse per school building.
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 600,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.