The New York City Council Hospitals Committee, chaired by Carlina Rivera (D-Manhattan), recently held an oversight hearing on “safe staffing ratios in hospitals.” Council Member Rivera opened the hearing by stating her concern that nurses with excessive workloads would negatively impact patient care. Most of the hearing was focused on two resolutions, one supporting an Albany bill to mandate forced, inflexible nurse staffing ratios on all hospitals and nursing homes in the State, and another calling for State legislation to require hospital emergency departments (Eds) to better inform patients of potential wait times.

New York City Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD, and Chief Nurse Executive Natalia Cineas, DNP, RN, discussed their staffing plans and ED operations. Several New York State Nurses Association representatives testified in support of the resolutions. GNYHA Senior Vice President for Legal, Regulatory, and Professional Affairs Lorraine Ryan testified on behalf of member hospitals in strong opposition to forced nurse staffing ratios, but offered full support for having more nurses available to deliver care as deemed appropriate. Ms. Ryan emphasized that forced nurse staffing ratios would crowd out other essential members of the health care team, undermine real-time patient care decisions, deny hospitals the workforce flexibility they need to respond to emergencies, and cost hospitals and nursing homes $3 billion annually. She said that studies do not conclusively show that ratios improve patient care and the cost of compliance could preclude hospitals from taking steps to reduce ED wait times such as through hiring additional primary care doctors or upgrading existing infrastructure.

GNYHA’s testimony is attached.