GERRY, NY – New nursing home staffing requirements will take effect Friday in New York State, with the hiring shortage causing frustration at the largest eldercare provider in Chautauqua County.
Sallie Williams, Vice President of Advancement at Heritage Ministries, is amongst those calling on the Governor to extend the timeline.
“The concern is that we’re already feeling the impact of the staffing crisis for going on two years now. And to have these new ratios going into effect on April 1st would triple the gap in the openings it would create that would need to be filled. Statewide, for non-for-profit and private, it is 12,000 jobs that have to be filled on April 1st to meet the staffing minimums outlined,” explained Williams.
According to the new rules, 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 rule was originally set to begin January 1st, before Governor Kathy Hochul delayed it due to pandemic-related staffing shortages. Shortages were so severe that National Guard members were deployed to Heritage Ministries nursing homes in Chautauqua County.
“We are also expected to now meet a minimum percentage of how much of our revenue goes towards direct care staff,” says Williams. “So that’s very much a one two punch, especially for non-for-profits like us.”
The law requires nursing homes to spend at least 70% of their revenue on direct patient care, and 40% on resident-facing staffing. However, the state has included $64 million in the 2021-2022 budget for increased nurse staffing in nursing homes.
Heritage has already made strides to find staffing solutions, including training programs to promote current employees.
“We have instituted a number of new front-line care and all employee focused benefits to make sure that we are retaining the high level of care that we’ve always been known for… But unfortunately, what we’re facing now comes down to something more, a lack of resources. There are no people to hire in order to meet this,” says Williams.
Williams says the regulations would cause immediate impacts, such as the suspension of admission into nursing homes, as well as the closure of units to delegate staff elsewhere. Hospitals have already seen a backup of patients according to Williams, since they can not release them back to their nursing homes.
Having access to licensure programs and state investment in Medicaid could help alleviate shortage issues as Williams explained.
Senator George Borrello has expressed his concerns over the new rules, saying that Governor Hochul has only made the staffing issues worse.
“She also forced the firing of so many people that refused to get the vaccine, so that exacerbated the staffing shortage,” says Borrello. “And the unintended consequence, will be the fact that if this requirement goes into effect, you’re going to have to see nursing facilities just decommission beds. They’re going to reduce the number of beds and in some cases, you’re gonna have facilities that are just going to have to close because they cannot meet those requirements.”
The Senator continued that Cuomo’s reallocation of medicaid funds to non-emergency travel has decreased the reimbursement nursing homes receive. The requirements put our most vulnerable population at risk, explains Borrello.