State To Investigate Plan To Eliminate Nursing Assistant Positions at Stanford Hospital
The Department of Health Services last week announced plans to investigate Stanford Hospital and Clinics based on complaints about nursing staff levels from the Service Employees International Union Local 715, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Stanford plans to eliminate 113 nursing assistant positions in cancer, cardiac and other wards and replace them with registered nurses to comply with new state rules on nurse-to-patient ratios (Feder Ostrov, San Jose Mercury News, 10/18). Under the rules, which will take effect Jan. 1, nurses will not have to care for more than eight patients at a time. The rules also call for one nurse per five patients in medical-surgical units by 2005, as well as one nurse per four patients in specialty care and telemetry units and one nurse per three patients in step-down units by 2008. In addition, the regulations state that licensed vocational nurses can comprise no more than 50% of the licensed nurses assigned to patient care and that only registered nurses can care for critical trauma patients. The rules also require at least one registered nurse to serve as a triage nurse in emergency departments. In addition, the regulations require hospitals to document nurse assignments to individual patients by licensure category for each day and each shift; hospitals must retain the documentation for at least one year (California Healthline, 9/30). Officials for SEIU Local 715, which represents nursing assistants and other health care workers but not nurses, said that the plan would "overload registered nurses with lesser tasks such as changing bedpans" and would "undermine the spirit of the new regulations," the Mercury News reports. Andrew Hagelshaw, spokesperson for SEIU Local 715, said that under the plan, Stanford would transfer most of the nursing assistants to other jobs and lay off 24 of them. Dr. Lawrence Shuer, chief of staff at Stanford Hospital and Clinics, said that a "return to mostly registered nurse staff is necessary" to comply with the rules and would lead to improved patient care, the Mercury News reports (San Jose Mercury News, 10/18).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.