Legislation signed this month by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will establish new staffing mandates for nursing homes and hospitals in the state. Under the new law, which will take effect in January 2022, nursing homes will be required to “meet a minimum daily average of 3 1/2 hours of nursing care per resident,” according to a report by Healthcare Dive.
Staffing requirements have long been a concern for healthcare workers who feel stretched thin by burdensome patient-to-staff ratios, which can in turn result in adverse healthcare outcomes for patients. Nurses around the country have been lobbying for legislation to establish mandated staffing levels, with one nurses’ union in Massachusetts going on strike for more than 7 weeks.
In that case and others, nurses said the Covid-19 pandemic made it harder and harder for them to provide patient care. According to Health Dive, California is “currently the only state with mandated staffing ratios on the books.” While that law specifies nurse-to-patient ratios in hospitals, other states have laws, like the one passed in New York, that allow hospitals to create their own committees to set staffing standards. The New York law will require at least 50% of those hospital committees to be comprised of “front-line nurses or direct care staff.” The president of New York’s State Nurses Association said that while the law does not explicitly mandate staffing ratios, “inevitably that’s what it means.”
As Healthcare Dive notes, there are no nursing home or hospital staffing mandates at the federal level, with hospital groups “generally opposed” to them out of fear that they “could hinder their operational flexibility.” New York Attorney General Letitia James released a report earlier this year finding that nursing homes with lower staffing ratings “had higher fatality rates” than those with high staffing ratings, which reportedly created “momentum” for the new nursing home and hospital staffing laws.
More information about New York’s nursing home standards is available via Healthcare Dive.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC work diligently to protect the rights of nursing home residents. Please contact us to discuss in the event you have a potential case involving neglect or abuse.