Nursing Home Staffing Still Illegally Low

June 22, 2022

NH_staffing_fa.jpgNursing Home members in New Jersey are raising the alarm that despite ground-breaking legislation which came into effect more than a year ago, the majority of facilities are still running short-staffed.

After the COVID-19 pandemic brought the issue of nursing home staffing into sharp-focus, the New Jersey Governor, Phil Murphy signed a law requiring that there be one CNA employed for every eight residents.

1199ers who had campaigned hard for such legislation over many years are now warning that it is not being adequately enforced.

Anna, a 30-year-veteran of nursing home work told the New Jersey Star Ledger that it is typical for her to be assigned 12 to 15 patients at one time. She has checked the staffing logs on numerous occasions and has found discrepancies between the records sent to the Department of Health and the actual number of people on site. She did not want her full name or the Middlesex County facility where she works to be named, for fear of retribution.

Another 1199 CNA, who has worked for the Cranford Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Union County for 20 years, told the Star Ledger: “I love what I am doing, but the employers make it so hard to do it. How can one person take care of 15 patients?” she asked.

The publication analyzed data reported to the state by New Jersey’s more than 350 nursing homes found that nearly 6 in 10 do not meet the requirements of the new state law.

“[Management] will say the patient ratio quota is low. It’s baloney,” said a third 1199 CNA who works in Middlesex County, “I think management is aware of the law and the fines and consequences behind it. I believe they are finding a way around it.”

The lack of adequate staff affects the quality of care for residents, she added. “I felt so bad, this one patient had a knot in her hair. I tried to help her. But she hadn’t had a shower,” she said. “The CNAs don’t have enough time to get them into the showers.”

Milly Silva, the 1199SEIU Secretary-Treasurer, said: “The industry will say it has been regulated enough, but the experience with COVID demonstrates they have not been regulated enough. It speaks to an industry that too often has chosen profit over patient care.”

1199 Magazine: May / June 2022