The COVID-19 pandemic exposed decades-old problems of staffing and quality in many nursing homes across the state, especially for-profit organizations.
Spurred by the activism of 1199SEIU nursing home caregivers, advocates, and family members, the State Legislature passed significant industry reform which was to go into effect on January 1, 2022 but was delayed by the Governor’s Executive Order, until today.
1199SEIU and long-term care advocates held a virtual press conference this afternoon in response to Governor Hochul’s lifting of a 3-month pause on two laws that were passed last year. The laws create minimum hours of care and direct care spending requirements for nursing homes.
The press conference was hosted by 1199SEIU Executive Vice President Milly Silva, Julie Martinez, LPN, and 1199SEIU member from Dunkirk, NY, AARP New York President Beth Finkel, Long Term Care Community Coalition Director Richard Mollot, Esq., and NY Statewide Senior Action Council Director Maria Alvarez.
At issue was ensuring that long-delayed reforms for NY’s nursing homes, which finally took effect today, will be implemented to improve resident care through staffing and spending requirements, in light of the industry’s continued opposition to basic standards of care.
Julie Martinez, licensed practical nurse (LPN) at Dunkirk Rehab and Nursing Center
“We are a small 40-bed facility and having one aid and one nurse for up to 40 residents makes it impossible to give residents the care they deserve. In addition to basic care, the things that seem little are important, like making sure their glasses and hearing aids are put away properly or holding their hand.
And then there are the big things—like when you have a full code and you’re one nurse and one C.N.A. on the floor. If I’m doing CPR, who is opening the door for the paramedics? And who is caring for the other residents? The most dedicated healthcare worker doesn’t want to work here, because you feel like you cannot give the care the residents need and it feels terrible.”
Milly Silva, 1199SEIU, Executive Vice President
“Today, April 1, 2022, is a key date in the history of New York. Governor Hochul did something that is important and necessary—and appreciated by thousands of caregivers. We are gratified to say that Governor Hochul has made an important decision—what we believe is the right decision. She has ended the pause on two important laws. One calls for nursing homeowners to spend 70% of their dollars toward direct care and make sure that 40% of those dollars are spent on the frontline staff; registered nurses, licensed practical nursing and certified nursing assistants. That goes hand in hand with new requirements for minimum standards of care. As of today, each nursing home resident must receive an average of 3.5 hours care per day.
There is no question that up until the point where nursing homes are actually investing in their caregivers—and that means not only recruiting staff but also retaining staff—we’re not going to see an improvement.
When employers actually invest and agree that they are going to do everything they can to retain those committed workers, they won’t lose them.
That means they have to address wage and benefit issues and create a safe working environment for caregivers. You have to do that first, so that you can keep the people that you have.
This all speaks to the importance of having clear data that can be reviewed and monitored so that nursing homeowners and operators are held accountable for providing safe staffing to residents.” For more information: https://www.nursinghomestaffingaccountability.com
“We look forward to working with Governor Hochul and the dedicated healthcare advocates who are with us today to continue to make improvements in the nursing home industry in order to ensure the best possible quality care to those who need it most.”
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in America. We represent over 450,000 nurses and caregivers throughout Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Florida. Our mission is to achieve quality care and good jobs for all. 1199seiu.org