Hospital and Nursing Homes Staffing Levels – Your Input Needed!

submitted by Lindsay Heckler, Esq.

The Department of Health is conducting a study about staffing levels in hospitals and nursing homes and needs to hear from the community!

As highlighted in our comments to the Department of Health safe minimum staffing levels are essential in ensuring each patient and resident receives safe, effective, and quality care. (Our comments may be accessed here: verbal, written).

Safe staffing standards will lead to better quality care in our nursing homes. In 2001, a comprehensive congressionally mandated study found that there are critical staffing thresholds necessary to maximize quality outcomes. Below these thresholds, the quality of care delivered to nursing home residents can be compromised. The recommended thresholds are as follows:

• 0.55 (short-stay)-0.75 (long-stay) hours of care per resident per day by a Registered Nurse (RN)
• 1.15 (short-stay)- 1.30 (long-stay) hours of care per resident per day by a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
• 2.4 (short-stay) -2.8 (long-stay) hours of care per resident per day by a Certified Nurse Aide (CNA)

We support the recommended thresholds for the long-stay hours of care as the minimum standards necessary to ensure every resident receives quality care. Since 2001, resident acuity and care needs have increased, as hospitals are discharging patients to nursing homes sooner.

In Erie County, the average staffing levels of all 35 nursing homes do not meet the recommended thresholds. Looking closer at the data there is variation of the quality of care amongst the facilities. For example, the average RN hours per resident care per day is 0.49, however across the 35 nursing homes there is a range of 0.24 to 0.98.

Average HPRD Range (Minimum- Maximum) Average HPRD Median Average HPRD
RN 0.49 0.24-0.98 0.45
LPN 0.95 0.48-1.28 0.94
CNA 2.19 1.21-3.10 2.2
Total 3.68 2.45-4.72 3.7

Every nursing home resident has the right to receive safe and effective care. However this is not occurring. The costs of understaffing, in terms of the lives and health of New Yorkers in our hospitals and nursing homes, are significant. The Department of Health needs to hear from members of the community on this issue! This means taking a few minutes of your time to call (888-710-2317) or email the Department of Health Commissioner Zucker and share your experience in a nursing home or a hospital and how lack of staff impacted your care!

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