Staffing Shortages in New York Nursing Homes Raise Concerns Over Care
September 27, 2019 | Finz & Finz, P.C.
The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization City Limits reported on August 26, 2019, that an investigation of nursing homes in New York found that nearly three-quarters of the skilled nursing facilities were rated “Below Average” or “Much Below Average” for staffing by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
While there have been calls for Congress to enact legislation requiring a minimum staffing standard of at least 4.1 hours of direct care nursing time per resident per day, City Limits stated that nursing home residents were getting less than three hours on average of direct nursing care each day at the worst-staffed homes.
According to City Limits, some of the lowest rated nursing homes reported having no registered nurses on site for multiple days each quarter. Data from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services showed how some of the most understaffed nursing homes have lower health ratings and nearly double the number of citations for health hazards.
The same analysis of 172 New York City nursing homes for which the staffing and deficiency data were available also found that 1-star nursing homes had the highest average number of deficiencies, the Medicare term for a health violation.
According to the City Limits study:
- 1-star nursing homes had 9.5 average deficiencies
- 2-star nursing homes had 9.1 average deficiencies
- 3-star nursing homes had 7.1 average deficiencies
- 4-star nursing homes had 7.4 average deficiencies
- 5-star nursing homes had 5 average deficiencies
Yue Li, professor of public health sciences at the University of Rochester Medical Center, told City Limits, “There is strong evidence that higher nurse staffing level is leading to better quality.”
One man who said he had to change his own wound dressings during his six-month stay at Meadow Park in 2018 told City Limits that the nursing assistants did not have the time to take care of everybody. Robyn Grant, director of public policy and advocacy at the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, told City Limits that many for-profit nursing homes see staff as the easiest target for budget cuts. This stems from the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act that requires nursing homes to have a licensed nurse onsite at all times, but it does not establish any minimum staff-to-resident ratios.
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