PRESS RELEASE: Concerned Caregivers Petition Florida Nursing Home Operators to Maintain Safe Staffing Despite Roll Back of Landmark Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 28, 2011

Concerned Caregivers Petition Florida Nursing Home Operators to Maintain Safe Staffing Despite Roll Back of Landmark Law

Profitable Nursing Home Industry has Responsibility to Protect Elderly and Disabled

Miami, FL – On behalf of nursing home residents, caregivers in 40 nursing homes in Florida today announced the delivery of 3,000 workers’ signatures to nursing home administrators urging them to keep bedside safe staffing levels in place and ignore the roll-back passed by the Florida Legislature. The proposed roll-back, which poses a serious threat to the health and safety of elderly and disabled nursing home residents, will be implemented when the state’s 2011-2012 budget takes effect July 1.

“We are taking matters into our own hands because we are extremely concerned about the serious consequences that rolling back staffing levels will have for our residents,” said Sharon Small, a 30-year certified nursing assistant who has worked at Lake Mary Health and Rehabilitation Center in Seminole County for ten years. “Lawmakers like Senator Negron who voted for this roll-back may not care about holding the bar high, but we do. We want our employers to join us in doing whatever it takes to make sure nursing home residents receive quality care.”

The landmark law, which initially passed the Florida legislature in 2001 and was later strengthened in 2007 to require a minimum weekly average of 2.9 hours of bedside care per resident by certified nursing assistants, catapulted Florida to become one of the nation’s leading states for nursing home care. According to a February 2009 University of South Florida study, “quality of care has substantially improved in Florida nursing homes since the introduction of increased nurse staffing levels and other quality standards since 2001.” The study also noted that “a recent review of the studies linking staffing and quality confirms that the strongest research suggests poor quality of care is linked to inadequate staffing levels.”

Hialeah Convalescent in Miami-Dade County has already confirmed that they will maintain safe staffing levels at 2.9 hours of care. However, Franco Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Miami and several nursing homes owned by Greystone Healthcare Management have already announced either staffing cuts or reduced work hours since they will no longer be required to meet higher staffing levels.

“The legislature made a huge mistake by rolling back safe staffing requirements,” said Debora Stanley, a CNA who has worked at Renaissance Health and Rehabilitation Center in West Palm Beach for 13 years. “Just because lawmakers make cruel and heartless decisions doesn’t mean we have to. Our employers are profitable and can afford to make cuts in other ways that don’t require us to lower standards.”

According to a 2010 study by the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy, at least 70 percent of nursing homes are profitable.

Throughout the rest of the week, nursing home caregivers represented by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East in Tampa-St. Pete, Orlando, Miami, West Palm Beach and other areas will continue collecting signatures from their co-workers and delivering them to nursing home administrators asking them to pledge support for safe staffing levels at 2.9 hours of care or more.

*Healthcare workers in media markets around the state are available for interview upon request. Please contact 1199SEIU Communications Coordinator Aaron Blye at 786-417-2897 or aaron.blye@1199.org.

Background

Required minimum staffing levels, which were initially passed by the legislature in 2001, were increased to 2.9 hours of care in 2007 with bipartisan support. At the time, 2.9 hours of care was a minimum level of care recommended by independent experts, and yet over the last few years the legislature has continually reduced this standard.

Cutting safe staffing levels below 2.9 hours of care can have catastrophic consequences for Florida’s nursing home residents. Without adequate, hands-on care, residents are subject to:

•    Reduced monitoring, which may increase falls, infections and even cause premature death
•    Infrequent repositioning, which increases risk of bedsores
•    Less time to assist residents with eating, which can cause malnutrition and dehydration
•    Reduced personal interaction

1199SEIU caregivers delivered petitions to the following nursing homes over the last week:

Facility City Media Market
Arch Plaza is a Nursing Home    North Miami    Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
Aventura Plaza/Hebrew Home of North Dade    North Miami    Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
Fountainhead Care Center    Miami    Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
Franco Nursing & Rehabilitation Center     Miami    Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
Hillcrest Nursing Home     Hollywood    Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
Jackson Plaza Nursing & Rehabilitation Center    Miami    Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
Miami Shores Nursing and Rehab Center     Miami    Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
North Beach Rehab    Miami    Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
Pinecrest Convalescent Home    Pinecrest    Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
Tamarac Convalescent Center    Tamarac    Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
Treasure Isle Care Center     Miami    Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
Unity Health and Rehabilitation Center     Miami    Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
West Broward Nursing & Rehabilitation    Ft. Lauderdale    Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
West Dixie Care Center     North Miami    Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
Wilton Manor Health & Rehab/Palm Court     Wilton Manor    Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
Avante at Melborne    Melbourne    Orlando
Consulate Health Care of Kissimmee     Kissimmee    Orlando
Healthcare & Rehabilitation of Sanford    Sanford    Orlando
Lake Mary Health & Rehab. Center    Lake Mary    Orlando
New Horizon Rehabilitation Center    Ocala    Orlando
Oaktree Healthcare     South Daytona    Orlando
Parks Health Care and Rehabilitation Center    Orlando    Orlando
Plantation Bay Rehabilitation Center     St. Cloud    Orlando
Rio Pinar Health Care     Orlando    Orlando
Rosewood Health And Rehabilitation Center    Orlando    Orlando
The Rehab Center of Winter Park    Orlando    Orlando
Titusville Rehabilitation and Nursing Center     Titusville    Orlando
Heritage Health Care Center–Venice     Venice    Sarasota
Alpine Health & Rehab Center    St. Petersberg    Tampa-St. Pete
Apollo Health & Rehab    St. Petersberg    Tampa-St. Pete
Lexington Health & Rehab Center    St. Petersberg    Tampa-St. Pete
North Rehab Center    St. Petersberg    Tampa-St. Pete
South Heritage Health & Rehab Center    St. Petersberg    Tampa-St. Pete
Spring Hill Health & Rehab. Center    Brooksville    Tampa-St. Pete
Avante at Boca Raton Nursing Home    Boca Raton    West Palm Beach
Avante at Lake Worth Nursing Home    Lake Worth    West Palm Beach
Palm Garden of West Palm Beach    West Palm Beach    West Palm Beach
Rehab Center of WPB    West Palm Beach    West Palm Beach
Renaissance Health & Rehabilitation of West Palm Beach    West Palm Beach    West Palm Beach
Renaissance Nursing Home & Rehab/Azalea Court    West Palm Beach    West Palm Beach

With 350,000 members in Florida, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland and Washington D.C., 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest growing healthcare union in the country. Our mission is to achieve affordable, high quality healthcare for all.

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