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NY Legislature Passes Safe Staffing Nursing Home Bill

 In Blog, Law

New York Legislature Passes More Nursing Home Staffing Reforms

It is no surprise that NY is in the process of trying to make nursing home reforms. In the wake of Covid-19 and the controversy surrounding Governor Cuomo’s handling of the pandemic, lawmakers have proposed bills that would help facilitate essential changes. Both houses of the NY Legislature have approved these health care “safe” staffing bills.

Reports indicate that more than 13,000 New Yorkers died of Covid-19-related complications in nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Brooklyn and across the state. Many people believe these deaths occurred in large part because of understaffing. Short-staffing practices have long been thought to cause injuries and even death to nursing home residents. Insufficient staffing often leads to inadequate supervision, neglect, and the hiring of unqualified, untrained workers. Health care staffing bills have been circulating among legislators for years but seem to have a renewed urgency to them since the pandemic.

NY Legislature Passes Minimum Staffing Bill for Nursing Homes

The Legislature passed minimum staffing bills that will if signed by Governor Cuomo, affect hospitals and nursing homes in NY, including nursing homes in Brooklyn.

For nursing homes, in particular, the bill creates a baseline of required staffing hours per resident. It “requires the state health commissioner to establish minimum staffing standards that include at least 3.5 hours of nursing care per resident per day. At least 2.2 of those hours must be provided by certified nurse aides and 1.1 by licensed practical nurses or registered nurses.” This would be the first time that New York passed a law requiring nursing homes to have minimum staff ratios.

The bill also requires that nursing homes publicly disclose their staffing levels in a way that is visible and accessible to residents, families, and employees.

Reactions to Safe Staffing Bill for New York Nursing Homes

The New York State Nurses Association president Judy Sheridan Gonzalez stated that the NYSNA was generally pleased with the legislation. She said this would be “a major step forward for every patient’s right to safe, quality healthcare.”

AARP New York, the Long-Term Care Community Coalition, the Center for Elder Law & Justice, Metro Justice, the Coalition of Institutionalized Aged and Disabled, the Community Service Society of NY, and Human Rights Watch said in a joint statement, “While this bill is a step in the right direction by creating minimum nursing home staffing ratios where no ratios currently exist, we have several major concerns with this legislation.”

This is a long list of influential organizations that do not believe this legislation is sufficient to truly protect nursing home residents from injuries and neglect. These advocates for the legal rights of elderly New Yorkers believe that the minimum hours of care for each resident should be higher. They cite a landmark federal study that indicates the minimum hours of care required to meet the basic needs of nursing home residents is 4.1. The NY bill sets the minimum at 3.5 hours, potentially depriving nursing home residents of time essential to their physical and emotional well-being.

Stephen Hanse, President, and CEO of the Health Facilities Association, representing hundreds of nursing homes in New York, foresees trouble ahead for many nursing homes. He claims that the bill makes unrealistic demands on nursing homes and does not address the causes of understaffing, which has been an ongoing problem. In a statement, Hanse said that even before Covid-19, staffing nursing homes and other long-term care facilities has been a struggle. Recruiting, training, and retaining employees has always been difficult, and Covid-19 has only made things worse. He blames the state for refusing to make any efforts to invest in efforts to encourage workers to seek and retain careers in long-term care. Hanse claims that many nursing homes “would welcome the opportunity to increase staff,” but it is just not feasible.

The need for more staff and better care in Brooklyn nursing homes and hospitals (there is also a bill that addresses safe staffing levels at hospitals) is evident. What is not apparent is how these facilities will find the people and the money to meet the requirements when the laws become effective. One health department report stated that the cost to hospitals and nursing homes to meet the staffing thresholds would potentially be $4 billion.

Call The Law Office of Irene H. Gabo, P.C. if Your Loved One is Neglected in a Nursing Home

Understaffing can easily lead to neglect in a nursing home. Neglect can cause injuries – physical and emotional ones. Sadly, for many nursing home residents, neglect can lead to death.

If your loved one was neglected or abused in a Brooklyn nursing home, you might be eligible to file a lawsuit and collect damages. Call the Law Office of Irene H. Gabo, P.C. today to find out if you can file a nursing home neglect or abuse claim. You can reach our Brooklyn nursing home neglect lawyers at 800-560-0214 to set up your free consultation.