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Letter: Safe nurse-to-patient ratios critically needed

Mario Cilento, President of the NYS AFL-CIO

ALBANY — The vast majority of nurses in this state are highly trained, dedicated and caring men and women who are committed to providing high-quality patient care, often under stressful and demanding circumstances.

We agree, as pointed out in the editorial, "Enforce nursing standards," April 14, adequate resources are needed to fund the Office of the Professions, responsible for licensing nurses. It will go a long way toward ensuring patient safety.

But there are several other factors that should be a part of the discussion. For state-licensed nurses to be able to provide quality patient care and the best treatment in a safe environment, safe staffing levels must also be included in the conversation.

Too many of our health care facilities are understaffed, with nurses routinely caring for 9, 10 or more patients at once.

The Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act addresses that by setting a maximum number of patients a nurse can care for at one time, establishing safe nurse-to-patient ratios and requiring hospitals to staff nurses in the specific unit for which they are trained.

Studies show, safe nurse-to-patient ratios result in better patient outcomes and fewer workplace-related injuries, while hospitals thrive.

No one wants to see patients suffer due to improper care, but the best way to improve patient outcomes is by setting safe nurse-to-patient ratios and adequately funding the agency responsible for nurses' standards.

Mario Cilento

President of the NYS AFL-CIO

Albany

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