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NY Safe Staffing Measures in Hospitals and Nursing Homes

Two bills passed by the New York Legislature will impact how healthcare facilities and nursing homes are staffed. The first bill, will set nurse-to-patient ratios in hospitals and the second bill, will set minimum care hours per resident, per day for RNs, LPNs and CNAs in nursing homes. Both proposed laws have passed the Senate and Assembly and await the governor’s signature.

Hospital Staffing Ratios

Every general hospital will be required to establish and maintain a clinical staffing committee by January 1, 2022 which must be made up of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, ancillary staff members providing direct patient care and hospital administrators, or hospitals may assign the required functions of the clinical staffing committee to an existing committee (such as a committee established by a collective bargaining agreement) who must develop and implement annual clinical staffing plans that include specific guidelines or ratios that indicate how many patients may be assigned to each nurse and the number of ancillary staff in each unit. Plan updates are required to be submitted to the Department of Health (DOH) on an annual basis, by July 1 each year, and the annual plan must be implemented by January 1 of each year.

The staffing plan for each patient care unit must be posted in each unit in a conspicuous location including the actual daily staffing for that unit as well as the relevant clinical staffing. The staffing plans must also be posted on the DOH website. 

Nursing Home Staffing Bill

The second bill authorizes the DOH Commissioner of Health to establish regulations for nursing home staffing standards which must meet or exceed those currently outlined in the bill. Starting on January 1, 2021, nursing homes must maintain daily average staffing hours equal to 3.5 hours of care per resident with specification that at least 2.2 of those hours must be provided by a certified nurse aide (or, until Jan. 1, 2023, by a nurse aide), and at least 1.1 hours by a licensed nurse. The nursing home is also required to post information regarding nurse staffing at the facility. 

The legislation authorizes the Commissioner of Health to promulgate regulations that establish civil penalties for failure to comply with minimum staffing levels.

HR Works will continue to monitor this legislation and provide updates as new information becomes available.

HR Works, headquartered in Upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.