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Latest News - April 2013

April 16, 2013
Nurses push for better staffing (Updated)
Source: Times Union
By: Rick Karlin

Among the groups here at the Capitol for lobby day are several hundred nurses with the State Nurses Association who are renewing their push for better staffing in hospitals. Democratic Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, who chairs the health committee, has a bill that would do that, but there are obstacles including financial ones.

“Hospitals are cutting staff to save money,” contends Dan Lutz a spokesman with the Nurses Association.

The shortage exists despite a veritable flood of nursing students who figure that health care, and the demand for nurses and other professionals, is one of the few bright spots in the current job market. The number of actual grads however can get stuck in any number of bottlenecks: nursing school isn’t cheap and there are a lot of requirements including lab courses to go through before one is a registered nurse.

Speaking to the crowd earlier was the Nurses Association’s Executive Director Jill Furillo, who explained how nurses in California recently worked to mandate lower staff ratios — one nurse per four patients in emergency rooms there. In Brooklyn emergency rooms, the ratio is more like one nurse for 17 patients, said Lutz.

The nurses group has butted heads with hospitals for a while and they earlier were involved in a successful effort to stop a pilot program for privatizing troubled hospitals.

Supporters of that concept think it could save some debt-ridden institutions such as SUNY’s LICH, or Long Island College Hospital which was scheduled earlier this year for closure, a move halted only by a temporary court order.

Opponents, including unions, see privatization as opening the door for hedge funds to buy up hospitals.

And hospitals warn that the bill being put forth in the Assembly would add to their costs since it would force the hiring of 20,000 nurses in short order.

“The bill would force financially strapped hospitals to hire 20,000 additional nurses statewide (at the expense of layoffs to other staff) and would cost hospitals and nursing homes $3 billion annually — all for a measure that has not been shown to improve patient care,” says the state Brian Conway of the Greater NY Hospital Association



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