Albany, NY— One day after the New York State Assembly passed the Safe staffing for Quality Care Act, and with petitions signed by over 30,000 New Yorkers, unions that represent nurses and healthcare workers and Patient Rights Groups representing tens of thousands of New Yorkers from across the state stood in front of the State Senate doors in Albany calling on Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and the New York State Senate to take action on the Safe Staffing bill.
The Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act is a bipartisan bill in the State Legislature with wide support that calls on hospitals to maintain a responsible number of nurses to patients.
Thirty-three members of the State Senate are now sponsors.
Joined by State Representatives, Unions and Patient Rights Groups demanded the State Senate bring the bill to a floor vote before the legislative session ends on Thursday. Advocates marched over to the office of Senate Majority Leader Flanagan and delivered petition signatures from thousands of New Yorkers who support the safe staffing bill.
New York is facing a staffing crisis in hospitals across the state. Nurses are being forced to care for more patients by hospital administrators who are pushing nurses and patients to the limit. In fact, most New Yorkers are unaware that there isn’t a law that currently exists that places a limit to how many patients one nurse can care for at one time.
In some cases, nurses in New York are being forced to handle over a dozen patients at one time. When that happens, patients suffer. Studies show the risk of patient death increases by 7% for each new patient a nurse must care for.
The legislation will save lives by ensuring that there are an adequate number of nurses at the bedside of patients inside New York hospitals. Among other things, this legislation will:
• Establish safe nurse-to-patient ratios for nurses in units at all New York hospitals.
• Require hospitals to staff units using nurses that are trained for care in that unit. For example, nurses in the ER should be trained in ER care.
• Require hospitals to be more transparent about their staffing levels.
• Set a maximum number of patients a nurse is responsible for at any given time.
Support for the Safe Staffing Legislation has never been stronger or louder.
“I support the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act because I know how important it is for New Yorkers to receive the best care possible when they visit the hospital. Right now, nurses are being forced to take care of up to a dozen patients at one time. When this happens, both patients and nurses suffer. It is our job as legislators to protect New Yorkers, and this bill takes the necessary steps in making sure our hospitals are as safe as they can be for both patients and nurses,” said Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson.
“Safe Staffing is likely one of the most common-sense measures before the legislature. It stands to reason, that the more patients nurses have to take on, their ability to devote the time and attention needed to guarantee the best care possible diminishes. The quality of healthcare in New York is largely determined by the quality of its nurses. Anything that hinders their ability to wholly devote themselves to the welfare of those in their care is a hindrance we are obligated to address. It’s time to pass the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act,” said Senator Martin Malavé Dilan.
"When you find yourself in the hospital, you want to be sure that no corners are being cut in the care you receive. Nurses are on the front lines of that care, but too often they are dangerously overworked, forced to care for more patients than they can safely manage. The Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act will protect patients by ensuring hospitals have enough nurses to meet their needs. I urge the Senate Majority leadership to let this bill come to a vote,” said Senator Liz Krueger.
"With the number of hospital closures in Queens over the past few years, it is now more important than ever, that we pass the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act. We have to ensure that we are protecting nurses as well as patients, whose very lives depend on the ability of our trained medical professionals to adequately and appropriately care for people in need. I applaud the efforts of NYSNA and the Campaign for Patient Safety Coalition for continuing to spotlight this issue right up until the end of this legislative session,” said Senator Leroy Comrie.
"As a trained occupational therapist, and as the son of a nurse who has worked in the field for 49 years, I have seen first-hand the importance of safe staffing levels in our hospitals and other health facilities. Safe staffing will further improve patient care, while providing nurses and other health care workers with the support they need to perform their physically-demanding duties. I'm proud to support this legislation, and I urge my colleagues in the State Legislature to join me in protecting patients and nurses,” said Senator Tim Kennedy.
“Safe staffing is a critical step to ensuring the safety of patients and the safety of nurses. Study after study has shown that investments made in nurses are good investments – whether it’s ending mandatory overtime, requiring safe patient handling policies, or setting safe staffing ratios. As our system of care is evolving, patient outcomes are a key factor in determining provider payments. Safe staffing will improve outcomes, save money, and save lives,” said Assembly member Aileen Gunther, the lead sponsor of the bill.
“Safe staffing saves lives, improves outcomes and reduces avoidable patient injuries,”said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried. “Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) determined the odds of patient death increased by 7% for each additional patient the nurse must care for at one time. The ratios and hours specified in this bill are based on peer-reviewed and evidence-based recommendations, and will ensure that hospitals and nursing homes are safer and provide higher quality care."
“I was thrilled to have the opportunity to join my colleagues in the Assembly to pass this critical legislation. Implementing a safe staffing ratio will help ensure that our loved ones come home from the hospital safe and healthy. I look forward to seeing this bill become law once passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor,” said Assembly member Carrie Woerner.
“When our family, friends and neighbors are in need of care, it’s the nurses who have always been there to comfort them, help them recover and ensure they return home to us. Our nurses have been there for us, and today I was proud to be there for them. For years we stood with our nurses, we rallied, we fought for safe staffing at the Capitol and in our communities. Today I was proud to be here to cast my yes vote when we made history and passed the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act, which shows our nurses how grateful we are for their continued service to our communities and ensures that our nurses can keep doing what they do best – providing our loved ones with the best care possible. I’ll continue fighting for this legislation until it becomes law so that those who care for our loved ones don’t have to shoulder the weight of providing care alone,” Assembly member Angelo Santabarbara.
"I am proud that the New York State Assembly, by passing the “Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act,” stood in solidarity with nurses from across New York State in their “Day of Action to Protect Patients.” Nurses have demonstrated their dedication to ensuring quality patient care through their professionalism and commitment to make sure that each patient gets the personal attention he or she needs. The "Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act" accomplishes that goal. The Senate needs to follow suit so that families need not worry about the quality of care and safety of their loved ones when hospitalization is necessary,” said Assembly member Phil Steck.
"I am proud A.8580 has passed the Assembly. I am a co-sponsor of this legislation because safe staffing is a public health and safety issue we cannot, in good conscience, ignore. Research has consistently demonstrated that when nurses are assigned more patients than they can adequately care for, those patients—our loved ones, our friends, our neighbors are at greater risk of death, infection, complications, falls and re-admission to the hospital. Nurses are the key to improving patient outcomes and we can no longer wait to address this issue. Legislators must act to improve their working conditions and to establish a minimum safety standard. Now is the time for the Senate to pass the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act. Patients in New York State hospitals and nursing homes, their families and our dedicated nurses deserve nothing less,” said Assembly member Ellen Jaffee.
"We cannot continue to allow our nurses to be overworked and undervalued. These healthcare professionals personify what it means to provide compassionate care. This is why we must support our nurses and pass the Safe Staffing Bill. I call upon the New York State Senate to bring it to the floor,” said Assembly member Michaelle Solages.
“I co-sponsored the Safe Staffing Act because I believe it is important that patients receive the best care possible, and that our nurses receive the support they deserve for the vital role they perform in our health care system. I would urge my colleagues in the State Senate to act on this legislation, which will improve the care New Yorkers receive in hospitals or long-term care facilities,” said Assembly member Anthony Brindisi.
“As a daughter of a Registered Nurse with over 40 years of experience, I witnessed her workload that required precision and quality of care to her patients. I fully support the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act and am pleased that it gained the traction in the people's house. Now it is necessary that the Senate take the baton to ensure its passage. In order to provide the care our constituents deserve state wide,” said Assembly member Alicia Hyndman.
"I've supported this legislation for years and will continue to push for safe staffing ratios to become law. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to take up this legislation. This is an issue of patient safety and it is central to our state's effort to create better health outcomes,” said Assembly member Addie Russell.
“NYSNA applauds the New York State Assembly for taking this historic step in passing the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act. By passing this bill, the Assembly has shown they have listened to the calls of New Yorkers and took the necessary steps in making sure our hospitals are properly staffed. It is now time for the Senate to follow and pass this bill before the legislative session ends. It is up to them to show New Yorkers that they too are listening and want to do all in their power to protect the quality care that New Yorkers deserve. As the voice of 40,000 nurses statewide, NYSNA urges the NYS Senate to take action now and protect both nurses and patients in our hospitals,” said Jill Furillo, Executive Director of the New York State Nurses Association.
“This is a historic moment for patients, families and nurses in New York. The New York State Assembly demonstrates great leadership in the passage of the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act. This legislation provides that every unit of every hospital in the state will be assured of enough nurses to care for patients. Now it is up to the State Senate to show leadership as well,” said Pat Kane, RN, Staten Island University Hospital and Treasurer, New York State Nurses Association.
"Tuesday was a historic day. For years, the New York State AFL-CIO has been fighting for safe nurse-to-patient ratios in our hospitals and healthcare facilities. Nurses have told their stories over and over about the challenges they face trying to provide the highest quality care possible under stressful working conditions that include inadequate staffing levels. Improving patient safety took a giant step forward with the Assembly passage of the “Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act.” We applaud Speaker Carl Heastie, Assemblymember Aileen Gunther, Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried and the Assembly Majority for taking the lead toward ensuring our hospitals are properly staffed to allow nurses to provide the best care possible while improving patient outcomes. We will continue to raise awareness about safe staffing levels until this common sense legislation becomes law,” said Mario Cilento, President, New York State AFL-CIO.
“PEF applauds the New York State Assembly for passing the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act," said Wayne Spence, President of the New York State Public Employees Federation. "All studies have shown improved outcomes for patients and nurses when staffing levels are optimal. New York State must take a stand, like California did, and embrace the fact that safe staffing levels save lives. We call on the New York Senate to pass this bill immediately”
"No patient in a hospital or nursing home should be left without care simply because the facility doesn't have enough nurses on staff. We applaud Speaker Heastie and the Assembly for passing Safe Staffing legislation that will save New Yorkers’ lives,” said Karen Scharff, Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York.
"The NYS senate needs to act now. It is agony for our nurses not taking breaks and still feeling helpless and guilty when they cannot give the care they know patients deserve because there simply is not enough of them at the bedside. Our members' concern is for the patients and their families that expect and deserve excellence. The NYS senate needs to put patients first and pass the state staffing bill,” said Deborah Hayes, Upstate NY/NE/CT Area Director, CWA District 1.
“On behalf of the 440,000 seniors that are represented by the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans, the issues of chronic under-staffing and low nurse-to-patient ratios are alarming and real. Ignoring nurses’ concerns for the well being of their patients is both egregious and ill advised. It is imperative that the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act be passed to protect citizens of all ages across New York State. The New York State Alliance for Retired Americans know that passing this legislation is literally a life and death matter for many of our members. There is no more important function of government than to do every thing in their power to address the health and welfare of its constituents. We urge the New York State Senate and the 33 co sponsors of this bill, which represent a majority of the Senate, to take action and pass this bill before the end of session,” said Barry A. Kaufmann, President, New York State Alliance for Retired Americans.
Becca Telzak, Director of Health Programs at Make the Road New York, said: "We applaud the State Assembly for passing safe staffing legislation to ensure that all patients have the care they need. In Latino, immigrant, and low-income communities, nurses are all too often assigned to too many patients, which undermines care and safety. We hope the State Senate will follow the Assembly's lead and pass this bill before the end of session.”
“Hospitals and nursing homes are chronically understaffed across New York State, leading to increased health problems and deaths. We need to make sure patients receive the quality care they deserve and nurses aren’t overburdened by unreasonable workloads so that we reduce avoidable patient deaths and injuries. We strongly urge legislators to pass the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act," said Bill Lipton, NY Working Families Party State Director.
The NYS Campaign for Patient Safety is a coalition of consumer, labor, patient advocacy and community organizations committed to fighting for the highest quality patient care for New York’s hospital and nursing home patients. We believe one of the most critical aspects of ensuring quality patient care is implementing minimum standards for how many patients a single nurse can treat at one time. That’s why we are supporting the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act. To learn more, please check out our website: www.campaignforpatientsafety.org