May 14, 2019

Nurses call for safe staffing: 'We need these things to succeed'

Author: Ned Hoskin
Source:  NYSUT Communications
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Caption: NYSUT nurses were out in force at the Capitol Tuesday. Photo by El-Wise Noisette.

Sitting down in his office with NYSUT Health Care Professionals earlier today, State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D–Bronx, was ready to listen. 

His mom had been a registered nurse, he said, and he remembered the crucial contributions of the visiting nurse — a member of the Federation of Nurses UFT — as well as the physical therapist and occupational therapist, who came to care for her at home after a serious illness.

NYSUT Board member Anne Goldman and MaryJo Ginese, both UFT vice presidents and health care professionals, visited Albany with scores of NYSUT nurses and nearly a thousand from several unions who came from all over the state for a grass roots advocacy day.

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Health Care Lobby Day - 2019

Goldman and Ginese met with Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D–Yonkers, seeking their support for three crucial bills.

“As nurses, in the visiting nurse service, in hospitals and in the schools, we need these things to succeed,” Goldman told the speaker.

The bills:

Safe-Staffing Ratios for Quality Care Act — [A.2954/S.1032]

State mandated safe-staffing ratios are needed to ensure the safety of patients and nurses.

“We cannot succeed in providing care unless we have the right number of patients per nurse,” Goldman told Heastie. “It’s clear and unambiguous.”

The state Department of Health is conducting a study to determine the current state of staffing ratios and to recommend a safe ratio, probably in the range of six patients per nurse.

“It’s not a luxury,” Goldman said in a meeting with Stewart-Cousins, “it is essential.”

Anti-Mandatory Overtime for Home Care Nurses — [A.3756/S.5678]

A 2008 law banned the use of mandatory overtime for hospital nurses in the state, but after heavy lobbying by the home care industry, visiting nurses were carved out of that law.

“What that has caused is an abusive scheduling situation,” Goldman said. “We have to eliminate the mandatory overtime in home care so that the employers will find more appropriate ways to correct their staffing shortages.”

School Nurse in Every School Building — [A.3577/S.424]

Many large city school districts in the state choose to have nurses travel from building to building and fail to employ on-site nursing professionals at each facility.

In these schools, students with chronic medical conditions are unable to receive the treatment or quality of care they require and deserve.

“In this day and age, students come to school with more and more complicated medical needs,” said Ginese, an occupational therapist. “The schools are becoming the first line of defense in public health.”

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