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Safe Staffing Levels in Health Care Settings

WHEREAS:

            Health care facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes, behavioral health facilities, institutions for the developmentally disabled and clinics, often do not have adequate and appropriate staffing; and

WHEREAS:

            Adequate and appropriately skilled staffing is a crucial determinant of the quality of patient care, with multiple studies and reports showing that higher staffing is associated with lower mortality, lower patient injury levels, lower rates of pressure ulcers and improved outcomes on a wide range of measures; and

WHEREAS:

            Safe staffing is also associated with lower rates of injuries and illness for health care providers themselves, and allows providers to fully and appropriately care for the vulnerable people in their charge; and

WHEREAS:

            AFSCME affiliates have worked tirelessly to negotiate safe staffing language in collective bargaining agreements and have made safe staffing a centerpiece of both contract campaigns and organizing campaigns; and

WHEREAS:

            California is currently the only state which mandates a nurse staffing ratio by law, while twelve other states require hospitals to have staffing committees or to publicly disclose staffing levels. Other states generally lack staffing protections, and federal regulations requiring “adequate” staffing are too ill-defined to hold health care employers accountable for staffing properly; and

WHEREAS:

            A study for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that “Higher registered nurse staffing was associated with less hospital-related mortality, failure to rescue, cardiac arrest, hospital acquired pneumonia, and other adverse events,” while “The effect of increased registered nurse staffing on patient safety was strong and consistent in intensive care units and in surgical patients.”; and

WHEREAS:

            The need for safe staffing does not end with registered nurses. Certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses and many other jobs providing direct care to patients need to be staffed properly.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

            That AFSCME will continue to fight for and support safe staffing laws and regulations, which benefit patients and workers; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

            That AFSCME will seek limits on mandated overtime in health care facilities with such limits based on the type of health care facility; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

            That AFSCME affiliates will continue to seek contract language guaranteeing safe staffing and will make safe staffing a central plank of organizing and contract campaigns if health care employers fail to staff properly; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED:

            That AFSCME supports an appropriate mix of staffing, which makes the best use of the many kinds of health care providers and corresponds with the needs of patients.


SUBMITTED BY:     Ken Deitz, President and Delegate

                                    Denise Duncan, Executive Vice President and Delegate

                                    UNAC/UHCP/NUHHCE/AFSCME 1199

                                    California

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