Nurses say new evidence proves need for ‘safe staffing’ bill

nurses - aileen gunther

An alliance of unions and patients’ rights groups are pushing for the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act again this session, using evidence from California to help their cause.

The bi-partisan legislation would establish secure and consistent standards for nursing care in the state of New York. The New York Campaign for Patient Safety aims to amend the Public Health Law and would require all health care facilities and nursing homes to follow new guidelines for nurse-to-patient ratios.

The bill (S.782/A.8580-a) is sponsored by 86 members of the Assembly as well as 26 members of the Senate.

“This bill has been in the New York state Assembly for 20 years. Now we have compelling evidence that tells us that safe staffing creates better patient care. It is very important for all the nurses throughout New York State that this bill is supported and passed this year” said Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, a registered nurse and the bill’s prime sponsor.

California passed a similar bill in 2004 that proved the legislation works, say proponents. The safe staffing requirements implemented statewide in California showed an increase in nurse staffing, improvement in patient recoveries during hospital stay and improvements in the financial performance of California Hospitals.

According to California’s Minimum Nurse Staffing Legislation, on average, California nurses oversee fewer patients than they did prior to the bill, as well as nurses in other states.

DeAnn McEwen, the former co-president of the California Nurses Association, helped lead the campaign for safe staffing in her state. She believes these measures are an important way to ensure the patients get the care they need and the nurses get the relief they deserve.

“There are a significant amount of research studies that have validated our experience in California, looking at patient outcomes, nurse satisfaction, and patient satisfaction. All of these indicators, reduced rate in bed sores, reduced rate of phenomena and overall reduced rates of harm and death to patients, are all the underpinned of the safe staffing legislation” McEwen said during a trip to Albany to advocate for the bill.

Lisa Alleyne-Moore is a registered nurse from the Kings County Hospital Center who also came to Albany voice support for the bill.

Alleyne-Moore has spent close to nine years at the Telemetry Unit in Kings County Hospital Center caring for her patients who suffered from cardiovascular health related issues. She explained that there are 36 beds in her unit, and on any given day, there is a minimum of five nurses on shift, leaving them to care for anywhere between seven to nine patients, at a time.

Because of the severity of their conditions, most of her patients need full-time care.

The lack of nurses results in some of these patients not receiving their medications on time or even at all. When dealing with recovering heart failure patients, their medications are essential and any lateness or malfunction to get them their medication is a serious problem.

The President of the New York State Public Employees Federation, Wayne Spence, fully supports the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act.

“It is a no brainer. Do it for yourself, do it for your loved ones, because more with less when it comes to health care, or when it comes to nurse to patient ratio is not something you want to gamble on.”

This legislation was introduced in the Senate and sponsored by Kemp Hannon R- Garden City.