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NY nurses hold rally for 'safe staffing' bill

By Alycia Bacon
Staff Writer

The New York State Nurses Association are pushing for a bill they say would require a “safe” nurse-to-patient ratio. If approved there would be a limit on the amount of patients a nurse would be assigned per shift. The group held a rally in New York City last week to support the bill.
July 30, 2012
Nurses from across New York state rallied last Tuesday afternoon in support of safe staffing legislation. The bill supporters say a shortage of nurses in hospitals, clinics and medical centers could lead to a rise in infections, falls, hospital readmissions and even death.

The solution to the proposed injury is a legislated nurse-to-patient ration.

"Every New Yorker deserves the same quality of care," said Pete Kane, a nurse at Staten Island University Hospital. "That is why we need to set statewide nurse-to-patient ratio legislation - the best way to improve care and outcomes for our patients.

In 1999, California passed the first safe nurse-to-patient ratio legislation. California nurses attended the New York City rally last week to discuss how this legislation can be passed in 2013. Members of the association met to discuss the Safe Staffing Bill (A.921/S.4553) which didn't move out of committee last session.

According to Dan Lutz of the New York State Nurses Association, the proposed bill would not require any additional out of pocket cost for the hospitals or the patients. "Academic studies show when researchers reviewed the California legislation after it was passed that it has been cost neutral," Lutz said. "The hospitals have been able to avoid nurse burnout and have been able to reduce cost associated with hiring and training new nurses every year." The proposed law would limit a nurse to four patients at a time. "Right now we have nurses reporting that they have been assigned anywhere from six to eight patients at a time."

The Safe Staffing Summit was organized by the New York State Nurses Association, which has 37,000 members and unions representing thousands of public workers. Over 300 nurses came to the July 24th summit as well as unions and elected state officials. Lutz said it is important to get the public involved to help the bill become law in the 2013 legislative session. "Number one thing a private citizen can do [to support the legislation] is to talk to state assemblymen, state senators and representatives," he said.

"Study after study shows that unsafe staffing levels are hurting our patients," said Julie Pinkham a registered nurse and the Nurse's Association's executive director. "This state needs a clear, enforceable nurse-to-patient ratio so every patient, in every hospital, will receive consistent quality of care."

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