NYSNA Applauds Landmark Safe Staffing Bills Signed In Law, For Patients And Healthcare Workers

June 21, 2021

In a giant step forward for all New York patients, nursing home residents, nurses, and healthcare workers, legal mandates are now in place to set and enforce staffing standards at every hospital and nursing home in New York, regardless of whether the facility is public or private, not-for-profit or for-profit, union or non-union.

The pair of landmark laws are the Hospital Clinical Staffing Committees and Disclosure bill (A108B/S1168A) and the Standard Minimum Nursing Home Staffing Levels bill (A7119/S6346).

Combined, they bring New York closer than ever before to NYSNA’s ultimate goal of equitable, universal safe staffing standards in every hospital and nursing home throughout the state, regardless of zip code.

NYSNA nurses and healthcare professionals applaud these laws as essential to carrying out their legal mandate to advocate for patients.

The laws bring greater accountability and transparency to the healthcare system and are set to go into effect in January 2021.

Nurses and healthcare workers have advocated for more than a decade for safe staffing in New York’s hospitals. NYSNA nurses have consistently spoken out at the bedside and beyond to sound the alarm about how understaffing harms quality patient care.

The unprecedented challenges brought forth by the pandemic—including barebones staffing, PPE, and equipment that stretched the frontlines to the breaking point—made healthcare workers demand change more forcefully than ever before.

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NYSNA joined with 1199SEIU and CWA District 1, two other unions who represent nurses and other direct care workers, to advocate for safe staffing legislation. Labor solidarity and support from healthcare champions in the state legislator made these laws possible.

NYSNA is especially grateful for the leadership of Assembly Member Aileen Gunther, State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, Assembly Speaker Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Senate Speaker Carl Heastie for their leadership on the issue.

Healthcare workers intend to hit the ground running, using their experience of establishing safe staffing standards in many facilities to ensure the smooth implementation of the new staffing laws.

NYSNA President Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, RN, said: “When hospitals and nursing homes fail to staff to safe standards, it’s the patients and residents who suffer. These new laws have the potential to significantly improve the quality of care, to prevent the serious complications that result from understaffing, and to begin to address the gross inequities that exist in our healthcare system. NYSNA is excited to begin the work of organizing—in real-time—to make the promise of these new laws a reality.”

“For the first time, enforcement of NYSNA nurses’ existing contractual safe staffing ratios and grids, as well as new staffing standards, will have the full force of state law behind them,” said NYSNA Executive Director Pat Kane, RN. “When it comes to chronic understaffing at healthcare facilities—patients, the public, healthcare workers, and lawmakers will now have the tools to improve conditions for care around the state.”

The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) represents more than 42,000 members in New York State. We are New York’s largest union and professional association for registered nurses.

For more information, please visit our website at www.nysna.org.

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