NY to begin enforcing staffing minimums law

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Governor Kathy Hochul will begin enforcing a 2021 state law that established minimum staffing levels for New York nursing homes, even though some facilities warn it could hurt residents due to shortages of nursing homes. pandemic-related personnel.

Earlier, Hochul had also cited pandemic-related staffing shortages as it issued executive orders that delayed enforcement of the law, which was originally set to go into effect Jan. 1.

But on Thursday, Hochul released a executive decree that requested the start of law enforcement.

It came after Attorney General Letitia James and members of the 1199 SEIU Healthcare Workers East union last week called on the Democratic governor to enforce the lawwhich was approved under former Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The law requires each facility to maintain daily staff hours equal to 3.5 hours of care per resident per day by a certified practical nurse, licensed practical nurse or registered nurse.

Hochul’s order also calls for the enforcement of the clause in the law that required nursing homes to spend at least 70% of their income on direct resident care and at least 40% of their income on staff who come into contact with the residents.

Learn more about nursing homes in New York:NY mishandled COVID in nursing homes amid ‘ill-prepared’ health department failures

The Health Department did not immediately respond to questions on Friday about the agency’s plans to enforce the minimum staffing law.

Nursing home trade groups have urged Hochul to delay enforcement of the staffing law, saying it would only deepen a staffing crisis at many nursing homes amid the pandemic.

This photo from Sunday, March 28, 2021 shows Adam Sternbach, right, hugging his 89-year-old mother Maryann Sternbach for the first time in over a year inside the Riverdale Hebrew Home in the Bronx NY The Hebrew Home has received a B score for infection and death rates in USA Today's survey of nursing homes' handling of the COVID-19 pandemic during the 2020-2021 winter surge.

Stephen Hanse, president and CEO of the Health Facilities Association, representing hundreds of nursing homes in New York, said Wednesday his group provided Hochul and other state agencies with independent analysis. of the Minimum Staffing Act led by Clifton Larson Allen.

Hanse said in a statement that the analysis exposed the “physical inability” of many nursing homes to comply with staffing minimums, as well as the financial impact on the industry.

Among the analysis results:

  • 383 of 611 (63%) New York facilities had less than 3.5 hours per resident per day of staffing requirements.
  • An estimated total annual cost of more than $324 million for New York facilities to meet new staffing requirements.
  • Annual incremental costs per facility that are below staffing requirements range from $250,000 to $1.6 million.
  • 5,610 total additional employees estimated for New York facilities to meet new staffing needs.

Hochul’s executive order, however, on Thursday renewed a disaster emergency declaration related to health care staffing shortages through April 30. The measure suspends various restrictions related to personnel in hospitals and nursing homes, such as changing certification regulations to allow medical workers to perform additional work.

The state Department of Health did not provide answers on Friday to questions about specific penalties nursing homes could face if facilities violate the law. The agency released a statement on its enforcement plan.

“At this time, nursing homes should appropriately document their efforts to comply with the law,” Health Department spokeswoman Erin Silk said in the statement.

“Mitigating factors may be considered by the (Department of Health) when assessing penalties for non-compliance at a later date,” she added.

A 62-year-old nursing home resident receives a COVID-19 booster shot in New York on Monday, September 27, 2021.

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David Robinson is the state health care reporter for USA TODAY Network New York. He can be reached at[email protected] and followed on Twitter:@DrobinsonLoHud

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