Nursing home staffing top issue for lawmakers in 2022 Session

Nursing home staffing changes clear last House panel

Nursing homes here in Florida are closing wings and refusing patients because they don't have enough staff to provide direct patient care as required by state law. Now the homes are asking lawmakers for help.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Nursing homes in Florida are closing wings and refusing patients because they don’t have enough staff to provide the required number of direct patient care required by state law. Now the homes are asking lawmakers to let them count the hours of care provided by specialists who are already seeing patients in the homes.

Nursing home patients are required by state law to receive three point six hours of direct care each day. Two and a half of those hours are to be from a certified nursing assistant -- and another hour by a registered nurse.

But most are having trouble meeting the staffing requirement because they can’t hire enough people.

“We have members who have taken two hundred of their seven hundred beds offline because they simply can’t staff them today,” Steve Bahmer, CEO of Leading Age Florida, said.

The homes want to reduce a nursing assistants’ time by a half-hour each day while counting hours already being spent on a patient by specialists but not now counted.

SEIU 1199, the union that represents CNAs, was out in force against the bill.

“You want to cut my hours once again,” Christina Chiger, a Certified Nursing Assistant, said. “You want to add more patients. How can I take care of twenty patients properly in an eight-hour time?”

A Senate was also scheduled to vote on the legislation on Wednesday, but it was postponed, suggesting that trouble could lie ahead.

The industry tells us that they are offering bonuses and higher pay, but with no luck.

“This bill does not change the total direct care hours that a resident will receive each day,” Kristen Knapp, a Florida Heath Care Assistant, said.

The union said the answer is lower profits and paying more.

The House bill is now ready for a vote by the full House. The Senate version will be back up next week unless whatever kinks exist aren’t worked out.

The legislation calls the change a modernization of what is considered direct care staffing. The industry said the modernization will allow homes to treat each resident as an individual with attention to their special needs.


About the Author: