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New Hospital, Nursing-Home Staffing Laws Give Voice to NY Medical Workers


Wednesday, June 23, 2021   

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Advocates for healthcare workers celebrated bills signed into law for new staffing measures they say will give more power to medical personnel in New York hospitals and nursing homes.

One measure said front-line nurses and other direct-care staff will make up half of hospital staffing committees. The other limits the number of patients assigned to each nurse in hospitals and nursing homes.

Nancy Hagans, board member of the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) and registered nurse at Brooklyn Maimonides Medical Center, said the laws will allow healthcare workers to better advocate for their patients.

"Every patient deserves to be well taken care of, regardless of their ZIP Code, their race, their economic status," Hagans contended.

The new laws take effect Jan. 1. Hagans said until then, NYSNA will encourage hospitals to hire more staff, and obtain personal protective equipment (PPE) in the case of a surge in hospitalizations. The group is also tracking staffing levels across the state and making the information public on its website.

Hagans emphasized most facilities needed more medical personnel even before the pandemic, and the bills would've allowed them to save more lives in the Empire State.

"We put our lives in danger in order to save others, because that's what we do," Hagans remarked. "But with the staffing bill, if we had enough equipment, if we had enough PPE, we would have been able to do much more."

She added NYSNA is working to educate folks in communities with lower vaccination rates about COVID-19 precautions, to prevent an influx of cases that could overwhelm hospitals again.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, more than 70% of New York residents over 18 have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, but fewer than half have been vaccinated in some counties.

Disclosure: New York State Nurses Association contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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