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Letter to Elected Officials Regarding Staffing Ratios June 2011

Dear Elected Official:

New York Hospital Queens is contacting you to express opposition to legislation that will impose specific staffing ratios for nurses and other direct-care staff in hospitals and nursing homes. We agree with HANYS (memo attached) that this legislation, in addition to imposing a significant unfunded mandate on hospitals and nursing homes, will adversely impact the delivery of health care services.

The legislation would establish a single formula for determining “safe staffing” for nurses and other direct-care staff, thereby implying that every unit, shift, and facility in New York State is the same.  It denies that meeting the goal of quality patient care requires an accounting of unique factors that individual hospitals and nursing homes consider when creating their staffing plan.

Hospital and nursing home staffing is determined by a host of complex factors that vary from department to department.   It begins with the patient and his or her needs, and includes consideration of the experience, education and preparation of the staff, the physical layout of the facility, and the competencies of the clinical and non-clinical staff that collaborate with the nurses.   Formulas and ratios do not capture the existing differences, nor do they provide the flexibility needed to adapt to special situations that arise in a hospital or nursing home.

Providing quality patient care is the top priority of New York Hospital Queens.   Any discussion of staffing in New York’s health care facilities must include efforts to attract individuals into health care careers.  In addition, this legislation represents an unfunded mandate, exacerbating our already challenging fiscal state.  Over the past three years, we have withstood massive cuts in state and federal funding.    The proposed legislation provides no funding to pay for the mandate and there is no effort to increase the supply of nurses necessary to fulfill the requirement of the legislation.

Thank you for your support with this serious concern. I am available to discuss any and all aspects of this topic.


Stephen S. Mills                                    Michaelle Williams, RN
President & Chief Executive Officer         Senior VP, Patient Care Services



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