Hundreds of Seniors, Union Members Lobby for Safe Staffing in Health Care

Several hundred seniors, nurse leaders and union activists came to Albany Tuesday for a lobby day to push for the “Safe Staffing for Quality of Care Act” sponsored by Assembly Health Chair Richard Gottfried and his counterpart Senator Kemp Hannon.  (A1548/S782).  Gottfried addressed the gathering at the Convention Center of the Empire State Plaza and said while it is an uphill fight, “safe staffing is kind of basic.”

The advocates argued that better health outcomes result when staffing is sufficient to provide quality care and said “the number of patients assigned to a nurse has a direct impact on the ability to appropriately assess, monitor, care for and safely discharge patients.”  The Gottfried/Hannon bill requires nurse to patient ratios in hospitals.  The ratios would take into account changes in patient acuity and required that nurses have competency.  In long term care facilities, the staffing requirements are base on a minimum number of care hours per resident.

The lobby day was jointly sponsored by New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), Communications Workers of America (CWA), New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), Public Employees Federation (PEF) and New York StateWide Senior Action Council which represents patients and consumers.  Leaders of all the organizations addressed the group in the Convention Center.

While hospitals oppose the bill’s strict ratios, the reality is that health care transformation is increasinglly being tied to outcomes such as reducing hospital readmissions.  This focus on patient outcomes and improved quality of care will require a more intensive patient centered approach by hospitals and adequate staffing will be necessary.   The failure to improve outcomes will reduce reimbursements for hospitals.

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I have been a senior advocate for most of my career. I was Executive Director of the New York StateWide Senior Action Council and the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans. In 2007-2010 I was the Director of the New York State Office for the Aging

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