ALBANY – In the face of growing concern about COVID-19 care in nursing homes and the false death statistics offered by the state, a bipartisan effort is on to legislate staffing levels at nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther told officials in a committee meeting Tuesday that staff can only handle so much before being overwhelmed.
“We have seen this year what happened in long-term care facilities and also acute care facilities. We see that there’s a burnout rate from nurses. They’re leaving the field,” Gunther said.
Gunther has sponsored the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act. The proposal is said to have bipartisan support in the state legislature, and the support of the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA). The idea is to have enough staff at healthcare facilities to take care of patients.
NYSNA officials said the legislation would create nurse-to-patient ratios by unit at hospitals. And at nursing homes it would set minimum care hours per resident per day.
While some argue that if the legislation is approved, facilities would need to hire thousands more healthcare workers, while there is already a shortage, driving up wages, a NYSNA spokesperson said it would incentivize nurses and draw more to the field.
“I’m sure that they would come back if they knew that they were going to practice under safe conditions and be able to provide the hands-on care that they went into the profession to provide,” she said.
The bill passed through the Assembly Health Committee Thursday morning and now heads to the Codes Committee.