DHS Holds Third Hearing on Nurse-to-Patient Ratios
The Department of Health Services yesterday held the last of three public hearings on proposed nurse staffing ratios, the Fresno Bee reports (Nax, Fresno Bee, 12/5). The first-in-the-nation rules, released by Gov. Gray Davis (D) in January, establish mandatory minimum nurse-to-patient ratios at general acute care hospitals and are set to take effect in 2004. The law will cost hospitals in the state nearly $500 million annually at a time when many hospitals are losing money from operations. The proposal calls for hospitals to have one nurse for every six patients in medical/surgical units; after one year, the ratio would decrease to one nurse for every five patients (California Healthline, 11/20). Representatives from the California Nurses Association and the Service Employees International Union presented testimony at the hearing in Fresno, agreeing that nurses should care for fewer patients. However, CNA says that ratios should only apply to registered nurses, while SEIU says licensed vocational nurses should be included in the counts, the Bee reports. CNA is calling for one nurse for every three patients for medical-surgery units, while SEIU is calling for a ratio of one nurse for every four patients. CNA Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro said, "We don't want LVNs counted in the ratios, but we want them there." Beth Cappell, an SEIU lobbyist, said, "LVNs and RNs should work together as a team" (Fresno Bee, 12/5).
Registered nurses and CNA officials on Monday held a news conference calling for hospitals to use only registered nurses to fulfill the state's new minimum staffing requirement, the Fresno Bee reports. Don Nielsen, Fresno-area representative for CNA said, "We want to encourage all-RN ratios, unlike what the hospital industry is putting forth." Tim Curley, regional vice president of the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California, said that the new measure does not state all nurses must be registered nurses, adding that hospitals are "not trying to skirt the law," according to the Bee (Correa, Fresno Bee, 12/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.