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NYS Assembly and Senate pass 'safe staffing' legislation for nursing homes, hospitals

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Posted at 5:34 PM, May 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-04 17:34:43-04

ALBANY, N.Y. (WKBW) — The New York State Assembly and Senate have passed "safe staffing" legislation for nursing homes and hospitals.

The New York State Senate Democratic Majority says it builds on legislation passed in March and includes the following:

Nursing Home Minimum Staffing Standards:

  • Require the Commissioner of Health to establish staffing standards for nursing home minimum staffing levels and impose civil penalties for nursing homes that fail to adhere to the minimum standards.
  • Nursing homes must meet a daily average of 3.5 hours of nursing care per resident per day with no less than 2.2 hours of care for certified nurse assistants and 1.1 hours for LPN/RN’s.
  • The nursing home must post information regarding nurse staffing at the facility.
  • Regulations promulgated by the Department of Health to establish the civil penalties will include mitigating factors to account for 1) extraordinary circumstances facing the facility such as officially declared emergencies or natural disasters, 2) the frequency of the violations of the facility, and 3) the existence of a nurse labor shortage in the area of the nursing home.
  • The effective date is January 1, 2022 with the civil penalties being enforced starting April 1, 2022.

Establishment of Hospital Clinical Staffing Committees:

  • Mandate each hospital to establish a Staffing Committee no later than January 1, 2022 and that each hospital shall adopt and submit its first hospital staffing plan no later than July 1, 2022. Beginning January 1, 2023 and annually thereafter, each hospital shall implement the staffing plan adopted by July 1 of the prior calendar year. DOH will post the plans on its website no later than July 31 of each year.
  • Require the Committees to develop and oversee the implementation of annual clinical staffing plans for nurses and non-nurse support staff at each hospital in the state.
  • The Staffing Committee will be made up of “at least” 50% of nurses (registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and ancillary members) and “up to” 50% will be hospital administrators (CFO, chief nursing officer, and unit directors). If there is a collective bargaining agreement, the selection must follow what is laid out in the agreement.
  • The committee will be responsible for developing and overseeing the implementation of a clinical staffing plan that will include specific guidelines or ratios, matrices, or grids indicating how many patients are assigned to each nurse and the number of ancillary staff in each unit.
  • The staffing plans must be posted in a publicly conspicuous area and posted on the DOH hospital profile website.
  • Require the creation of an advisory commission to oversee the effectiveness of the Clinical Staffing Committees with an initial report due to the Legislature and the Governor by October 31, 2024.

New York currently has no minimum requirement for staffing in nursing homes and hospitals. In a May 2020 interview with 7 Eyewitness News, Alice Marciszewski of Medina said with a safe staffing law she believed her mother would not have suffered such a dramatic decline before her death in January.

The two bills will now be delivered to Governor Cuomo for his signature.