nurse_senior_web.jpgTALLAHASSEE — Caregivers in 40 nursing homes in Florida announced they delivered signatures from 3,000 workers to nursing home administrators urging them to keep bedside staffing levels in place and ignore a roll-back required under a law passed by the Legislature.

The roll-back, which the group dubbed a serious threat to the health and safety of elderly and disabled nursing home residents, became effective when the state’s 2011-2012 budget took 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,” Sharon Small, a 30-year certified nursing assistant, said in a statement announcing the move.

Small, who has worked at Lake Mary Health and Rehabilitation Center in Seminole County for 10 years, said lawmakers 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 statement said Hialeah Convalescent in Miami-Dade County had confirmed it will maintain “safe” staffing levels at 2.9 hours of care. Franco Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Miami and several nursing homes owned by Greystone Healthcare Management announced staffing cuts or reduced work hours since they would no longer be required to meet higher staffing levels, the statement added.

“The Legislature made a huge mistake by rolling back safe staffing requirements,” said Debora Stanley, a certified nursing assistant 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,” Stanley said.

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