Hospitals Hire Nurses To Comply With New State Mandated Staffing Ratios
Last week, the final phase of new state rules for nurse-to-patient ratios went into effect, forcing some hospitals to hire more nurses to meet the new requirements, the Fresno Bee reports.
The hospital units affected by the new requirements include:
- Telemetry units;
- Transitional units between intensive care and medical-surgical units; and
- Specialty care units (Correa, Fresno Bee, 1/7).
The new ratios, which began in phases starting in 2004, mandate one nurse for every three patients in transitional units and one nurse for every four patients in telemetry and specialty care units (Klampe, Ventura County Star, 1/9).
To meet the requirements, Saint Agnes Medical Center hired seven new registered nurses, Community Medical Center hired about 30 and Kaiser Permanente in Fresno hired about 18 new nurses.
Jan Emerson, spokesperson for the California Hospital Association, said the mandate has become expensive for many hospitals because they had to hire temporary travel nurses. Emerson said hospitals typically spend at least twice as much on wages for travel nurses than for full-time nurses.
Officials with the Department of Public Health, which oversees hospitals' compliance with the mandate, said no fines have been imposed on hospitals for violations.
The nurse-to-patient ratio mandates were initiated in January 2004, although CHA lobbied against them. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) attempted to halt the requirements through an emergency request to push back implementation until 2008, but a judge ruled against the request.
The California Nurses Association pushed for the new rules and said they have been good for patients and nurses (Fresno Bee, 1/7).