ALBANY, N.Y. May 9, 2017 – Hundreds of nurses from across the state will converge on the Capitol today to press lawmakers to protect patients by immediately enacting legislation placing limits on how many patients one nurse can care for at a time.
Nurses from the Public Employees Federation; New York State Nurses Association; CWA District 1; and New York State United Teachers — along with activists from the NY StateWide Senior Action Council — will call for passage of the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act, a bipartisan bill that has nearly 100 co-sponsors in the Assembly and nearly 30 in the Senate. The legislation will save lives by ensuring there are an adequate number of nurses at the bedside of patients in New York hospitals. The legislation would:
- Establish safe nurse to patient ratios for nurses in units at all New York hospitals.
- Require hospitals to staff units using nurses that are trained for care in that unit. For example, nurses in the ER should be trained in ER care.
- Require hospitals to be more transparent about their staffing levels.
- Set a maximum number of patients for which a nurse is responsible at any given time.
“Often, nurses are being forced to take on a dozen or more patients at once. When that happens, quality patient care suffers,” said NYSNA Executive Director Jill Furillo, RN. “Enough is enough. It’s time for Albany to pass the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act and make sure a nurse is there when New Yorkers need them the most.”
NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said, “New York is facing a staffing crisis. Nurses are being pushed to the limit, and patients are suffering. It is past time for New York to put patients ahead of hospital profits. Albany must place limits on how many patients a nurse can care for at a time.”
“Understaffing not only deters people from entering a nursing career, it damages health care,” said PEF President Wayne Spence. “All studies have shown improved outcomes for patients and nurses when staffing levels are optimal. Our state must take a stand, like California did, and embrace the fact that safe staffing levels save lives.”
Debora Hayes, area director, Upstate NY/NE, CWA District 1, said, “Every minute that the Senate waits to pass this bill are moments that a patient is waiting desperately for care. It’s a minute when a parent in their child’s hospital room notices that something is wrong and runs into the hallway to call for help, but no one is there. This is unacceptable. We have regulations that set minimum ratios for childcare providers to children in New York’s daycares, but that same child in the hospital does not get a similar guarantee of attention. It’s absurd and the Senate has a moral obligation to act now.”
NY StateWide Senior Action Council Executive Director Maria Alvarez stated, “Older New Yorkers are particularly affected by unsafe staffing in hospitals and nursing homes. Seniors routinely experience long-term effects from preventable infections, falls and bedsores. As a consequence, many are never able to recover. The state must establish minimum safe nurse-to-patient ratios in all hospitals and nursing homes to protect patients from poor outcomes and to give them the assurance that their call lights will be responded to in a timely manner when they need help.”
New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.