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Letter: Proper staffing levels ensure quality care

On Nov. 30 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spoke about poor staffing at nursing homes. These concerns are legitimate. Without adequate staffing patients’ lives are at risk. Research clearly shows the “nurse to patient ratio” has a tremendous impact on the quality of care a patient/resident receives.

Without proper staffing there is an increased risk of illness, patient falls, wound infections and bed sores. The consequences of poor staffing can be fatal, especially in the elderly population.

A Kaiser Health News analysis of four years of federal inspection records showed 74 percent of nursing homes have been cited for inadequacies in their infection control practices. This is more than any other type of health violation. These inadequacies are not mentioned in the Dec. 20 editorial, “Staffing-level mandate is wrong approach to keeping nursing homes safe.” Why?

It was stated by a nursing home administrator in the Nov. 30 article that the nursing home operators should be allowed to determine staffing for their residents’ health and wellbeing. That has not been effective, so why would we believe they will staff properly in the future?

The Dec. 10 News article states only 8 percent of New York nursing homes comply with proposed staffing laws, which currently is documented to say, “sufficient staffing levels will be maintained.” That definition is subjective to whomever is interpreting it.

We need mandated staffing levels in nursing homes and hospitals to adequately care for our loved ones. We cannot rely on the facilities to do the right thing. There is plenty of documented evidence that proper staffing saves lives and provides adequate care for our loved ones.

Our family members deserve no less than the best care possible.

Linda Sheehan, RN

North Tonawanda

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