Gray Panthers NYC on Nursing Home Staffing in New York
Recently Gray Panthers NYC was part of a coalition of organizations submitting joint comments on the New York State Department of Health’s proposed minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes in New York State.
Why should we care about minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes in New York State? Nursing homes that are inadequately staffed are nursing homes that give inadequate care to their patients. This is particularly critical as we continue to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic (which, contrary to what President Biden has said, is not over and continues to kill hundreds of Americans a day), and in the bigger picture, as we try to ensure that people in nursing homes get the care they deserve for other health matters. An understaffed nursing home is a recipe for neglected patients.
Gray Panthers and other organizations made two major points in joint comments about the proposed minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes in New York State:
1. Compliance with minimum staffing requirements must be based on whether a nursing home is meeting the staffing standards daily. The New York State Department of Health instead is hoping to base compliance on the quarterly average of reported staffing data, which is flawed because it hides some of the staffing issues many facilities have on weekends and other times, not to mention flawed because it is not consistent with what is outlined under the Public Health Law in New York.
2. Penalties must be sufficient to compel compliance. The New York State Department of Health proposed to eliminate minimum penalties for a nursing home’s noncompliance with the law. Without minimum penalties, what keeps a nursing home from grossly understaffing in perpetuity? Nothing. And the loser in all of this is nursing home residents.
We at Gray Panthers NYC hope that the New York State Department of Health takes these concerns seriously, and prioritizes patients, not profits.