NY Governor Lifts Pause on Nursing Home Reform

April 21, 2022

Screen Shot 2022-04-21 at 4.24.56 PM.pngAs the 1199 Magazine was going to press, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that she would finally lift the pause on nursing home legislation that 1199SEIU members had fought long and hard to get signed into law last year.

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed decades-old problems of staffing and quality in many nursing homes across the state, especially for-profit organizations.

Spurred by the activism of 1199SEIU nursing home caregivers, advocates and family members, the State Legislature passed significant industry reform which was to go into effect on Jan. 1, but had been delayed for three months by the Governor’s Executive Order.

Hochul’s change of heart came after the New York Attorney General, Letitia James, visited the 1199SEIU headquarters to hear first-hand accounts from nursing home members of how understaffing was affecting patient care.

“They have revealed to me conditions in some of these nursing homes which are appalling,” James said. “They are working double and triple shifts. They indicated to me that some patients’ needs are not being met because they are under-resourced.”

One of the staffing measures that the Governor postponed following nursing home industry lobbying required homes to hire enough employees to provide patients with an average of three-anda- half hours of clinical care each day.

Another required nursing homes to spend at least 40% of revenue on staff that provide direct patient care. Both of these laws finally went into effect on April 1.

Julie Martinez, licensed practical nurse (LPN) at Dunkirk Rehab and Nursing Center in Western New York, explained why reform was needed: “We are a small 40-bed facility and one aide and one nurse for up to 40 residents makes it impossible to give residents the care they deserve.

If I’m doing CPR, who is opening the door for the paramedics? And who is caring for the other residents? The most dedicated healthcare worker doesn’t want to work here, because you feel like you cannot give the care the residents need, and it feels terrible.”

1199SEIU nursing home members can check how close or far their institution is to complying with the new laws here: https://www. nursinghomestaffingaccountability.com/

1199 Magazine | March / April 2022