Shelley Introduces Bill to Set Nursing Home Staffing Ratios
State Assembly Majority Leader Kevin Shelley (D-San Francisco) on Friday introduced a bill (AB 1075) that would establish a maximum number of nursing home patients that nurses and certified nursing assistants could care for during each shift, the Contra Costa Times reports. The bill would require nurses to care for no more than five patients during day shifts by 2004. In additional, the bill would require CNAs to care for no more than seven patients on day shifts and 17 on night shifts, and calls for these numbers to drop by two per shift by 2004. Shelley said he based these numbers on figures from the Service Employees International Union, the "largest CNA bargaining group" in California. Union spokesperson Beth Chapell said the bill's requirements represent "minimum adequate care. They are enforceable, accountable ratios."
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Pat McGinnes, executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, predicted that a Contra Costa Times investigation published Sunday on the "inadequate" state of patient care in nursing homes "will make a difference" in staffing reforms by "draw[ing] lawmakers' attention" to nursing home issues. The Times reports that the Department of Health Services must deliver a nurse staffing level report to Gov. Gray Davis (D) on May 1 (Peele, Contra Costa Times, 3/1).