Nurses Day Message to the legislature

Nurses Activism


:: NYSNA Press Releases::

NY nurses' message to their legislature:

Honor RNs During Nurses Week: Enact Statewide Staffing Standards!

Albany, NY, May 5, 2003-May 6-12 is Nurses Week across the nation. This is traditionally a week when Registered Nurses are honored for their unique combination of empathy and professionalism in caring for people at every stage of life.

This year, however, RNs are struggling to provide quality care in facilities that are severely understaffed. To help ensure the safety of both nurses and patients, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) is proposing RN-to-patient ratios for all hospitals in the state. A separate bill for staffing in long term care facilites is currently in committee.

"Enactment of statewide staffing standards would be the best way to honor Registered Nurses during Nurses Week," said NYSNA Executive Director Martha Orr, RN. "Recent studies have shown that when RN staffing is too low, patients pay the price. Plus, RNs are leaving the profession because they are prevented from providing the care they know their patients need."

At NYSNA's request, legislation has been introduced that would set minimum RN staffing ratios for designated areas of the hospital such as medical/surgical units, obstetrics, operating rooms, critical care units, and emergency departments. The measure covers most hospital services and requires the state to set standards for other units as needed.

The bill is sponsored in the State Senate (S4713) by Senators Martin Golden, Elizabeth Little, Thomas Morahan, and Joseph Robach. It is expected to be introduced shortly in the State Assembly.

For example, the legislation would require RN-to-patient staffing levels of 1:1 in the critical care, emergency trauma units, the operating room, and obstetrics for women in the final stages of labor. A ratio of 1:2 would be required for post-anesthesia patients and women in the early stages of labor. For medical/surgical patients, a ratio of 1:4 would be required for general units, including pediatrics, and 1:3 for patients on telemetry or who have recently been moved out of the CCU.

"These ratios are intended to be statewide minimums for hospital RN staffing, not a 'one size fits all' requirement," said Orr. "Under this proposal, minimum staffing requirements would be adjusted in each facility to provide more nurses as patients' needs require. These adjustments would be made by hospital staffing committees that include RNs involved in direct patient care."

NYSNA has long fought for statewide RN staffing guidelines in the contracts it negotiates for members, in state regulations, and in the legislature. It has become more urgent to put RN staffing ratios into law as a growing body of research has connected RN staffing levels to patient outcomes.

A study published last fall in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that patients in medical/surgical units with RN-to-patient staffing of 1:8 were 31% more likely to die within 30 days than those in units with staffing ratios of 1:4. In fact, NYSNA members report much higher ratios, such as one RN to 10 patients in medical/surgical units and 1:3 in some critical care units.

NYSNA is urging the State Legislature to enact staffing ratios as part of its renewal of the Health Care Reform Act (HCRA). "We need to put the "care" back in HCRA," said Orr. "The legislature must ensure that healthcare funds are being used to support quality care."

Other quality measures include:

* A ban on mandatory overtime for nurses;

* Disclosure of data indicating quality of patient care; and

* Support for recruiting and education of future RNs.

"It is time for New York state to take responsibility for ensuring safe patient care," said Orr. "It's a matter of life and death."

NYSNA, with more than 34,000 members, is New York's largest union and professional association for Registered Nurses. NYSNA is the only organization that exclusively represents the interests of New York State's RNs, and is recognized nationwide as a trendsetter in improving RNs' wages and working conditions. NYSNA works to advance the nursing profession through collective bargaining and legislative activities, and fosters high standards of nursing education and practice. It is a constituent of the American Nurses Association and its labor arm, the United American Nurses, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO.

NYSNA Rolls Out New Staffing Legislation:

How many RNs are needed for safe patient care? Nurses know the answer to that question, and that's why NYSNA has drafted the RN Safe Staffing Act. This new legislation would establish RN-to-patient staffing ratios in all hospitals in New York state. Here are the bill's most important features:



Liddle Noodnik

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Great! thank you!


2,709 Posts

Just curious..... with so many employers advertising in the journals last month about how much they value and appreciate their nursing staffs on Nurses Day, has anyone seen an increase in their staffing or decrease in their pt load since then? I mean, did any of our employers put their money with their mouths are once the cake was finished? Or were all the accolades just a bunch of hyperbole?

Home Health Columnist / Guide


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Originally posted by -jt

has anyone seen an increase in their staffing or decrease in their pt load since then?

I started as manager 9/1/02:

I just hired an LPN to assist my intake staff, does that count? Also got 16 hr week Insurance verification postion approved---staff member is now work 16 for me and 16hrs for Utilization Review dept starting next week..

Intake always considered lower paying position--unable to fill RN postion due to salary--got them to wrangle 4% wage equity and June 03 raise of 2% (total =6%) approved in February 03.

Just told today I am reporting to the CFO---he's thrilled as we've been working on committee's together for 6 months (told him that he needs to arrive on time after breezing in 20 min late last week). Yesterday at a hospital meeting in front of my VP of Nursing, he said I'm a smart nurse with good business sense.

DON postion offered to me for our Philly office---I told them I'm very happy as Mgr of Central Intake for three homecare agencies.(really don't need other offices headaches at this time) "were very pleased as your self directed."

Not letting the praise get to my head---but hoping that position will be elevated to Director level at evaluation time this month.

Wish I had a tape recorder --so I could replay during stormy days. ;)


2,709 Posts

lol. Thats great. Congrats! My poor manager has been requesting for over a year that the hospital add a nurses aid position to our unit, in response to the staff nurses continued documentation of the need & the frequent meetings we are calling with her to press for it. She has continually been turned down by the hospital because "its not in the budget" - and so she revises her proposal to include some cost savings & submits it again & is turned down again. The manager isnt the problem. Its the employer who doesnt know a thing about nursing and pt care but insists we dont need the help - or more nurses. Nothing against our manager - she is very supprotive of the nursing staff. You guys have a tough job being between a rock & a hard place. We filed the grievance against the employer, not the manager.

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