California Nurses Association Launches Advertising Campaign Criticizing Proposed Delay of Nurse-Staffing Regulations
The California Nurses Association on Monday launched a radio advertising campaign criticizing a plan by the administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) to delay implementation of some nurse staffing rules scheduled to take effect in 2005, the Sacramento Bee reports (Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 11/23).
Department of Health Services officials earlier this month proposed to delay until at least January 2008 the decrease -- originally scheduled for Jan. 1, 2005 -- in the nurse-to-patient ratio for medical-surgical units to 1-to-5 from 1-to-6. DHS also would allow hospitals to temporarily suspend compliance with nurse staffing rules for EDs in the event of an "unforseeable influx" of patients. In addition, DHS proposed to reverse a requirement that hospitals replace nurses on bathroom breaks.
DHS has submitted the proposals to the Office of Administrative Law, which is expected to approve them. DHS likely will hold a public hearing on the proposals in mid-January (California Healthline, 11/8).
In a move that "escalates the union's attack" on the plan, CNA is spending $100,000 on ads that will run for one week on radio stations in Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, the Bee reports. The ads state, "It's wrong to let some big hospital corporation put patients' lives at risk."
Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of CNA, said, "We're pretty upset with the governor because we believe he bowed to special interests in the health care industry."
Brenda Klutz, deputy director of licensing and certification for DHS, said, "The only thing we've done is delay for three years an enriched ratio for medical-surgical -- one unit -- and mixed units, (of) which there are very few." She added that the Schwarzenegger administration continues to support the original purpose of the nurse staffing rules but said that the law is having the unintended effect of creating a bidding war for nurses (Sacramento Bee, 11/23).
The "burdensome costs" of the nurse staffing rule "have prompted 11 hospitals to close their doors entirely or eliminate staff-intensive" emergency departments or psychiatric departments, according to a San Diego Union-Tribune editorial. The rules are "driving up the already astronomical costs of health care," the editorial states.
Citing DHS' proposed delay of the deadline to comply with the rules, the editorial concludes, "We have a better suggestion: The Legislature should repeal this ill-advised law entirely and stop meddling in the management of hospital wards" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/19).