SEIU Nevada unites healthcare workers in our commitment to provide the safest and highest quality of care for our patients and the public we serve. Our history in defending our bedside staff and protecting our patients has been at the very principal of our organizing the healthcare systems throughout the state. As well, we have built a Healthcare Committee that not only brings together nurses but all the ancillary staff throughout the hospitals and from around the Silver State.
We conducted Statewide Healthcare Summits to address the current healthcare crisis in our state. Last year, in our Healthcare Workers 2012 Summit, we reviewed our universal frustration with staffing levels within our facilities and our lack of enforcement power. We put forward a staffing bill that we felt would address both issues. We renewed our efforts to implement state-wide minimum staffing ratios to address the staffing level and the protection of our patients. We kicked things off by collecting hundreds of Assignment Despite Objection forms which supported our cause for a great need for legislative change.
Senate Bill 362
In our efforts to ensure patients receive quality care, we sought sponsorship and support for a Minimum Nurse Staffing Ratios Bill. Staffing Ratios has been a long standing battle between SEIU Nurses and hospital administrations not only in Nevada but throughout the country. A Safe Staffing Bill would have required hospitals to create an acuity system and annual staffing plan, including minimum nurse-to-patient ratios, and provide for penalties if such ratios are not met. In Nevada, we have submitted Staffing Bills in 2003, 2007 and in 2009.
We still believe staffing is the right solution. Although we were able to make tremendous gains and secure groundbreaking legislation, unfortunately, we did not win Senate Bill 362 in its original format. However, after a long drawn out debate, Senator Spearman found a common interest with all parties to increased protection of the patients and the staff who cares for them.
SB 362 Will:
· Establish the power within the Staffing Committees for health care workers to set the matrixes for all the units in order to provide quality patient care.
· Develop the necessary policies to ensure the hospitals adhere to the established matrixes.
· Identify how Nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants ARE PROTECTED from retaliation if they exercise their right to refuse an assignment.
· Reiterates provisions already in Nevada Administrative Code NAC 632 that authorizes RNs and CNAs the right to refuse an assignment.
· Establishes investigations, penalties and fines for medical facilities that do not develop and implement staffing plans.
· SB 362 authorizes the Health Division to oversee at the Staffing committees, policies, and patient ratios as part of the medical facilities licensing process.
· Note RNs and CNAs who are in labor unions already have additional provisions in their negotiated contract to utilize Acceptance Despite Objection Forms – Now SB 362 gives that right to everyone whether they are in a Union or not!
• Under SB 362, we will have a neutral entity, the Nevada Division of Health, overseeing and logging the complaints. We increased our powers within our Staffing Committees, hospitals will have to develop appropriate matrixes and nursing care requirements for each unit and tie these provisions to the licensing processes of our facilities in Clark and Washoe County.
A big thank you to our President Al Martinez and the many RN and healthcare leaders and professionals who advocated on behalf of this bill. We are pleased the Governor has signed this groundbreaking legislation and look forward to being part of the implementation and part of the solution!