Nurses, health professionals, and patients traveled to Trenton on Monday, February 27th to urge Governor Christie and lawmakers to fully fund hospital inspections and to pass legislation that ensures patient safety and worker rights’ enforcement by the State of New Jersey.
“We believe that to ensure patient safety, legislation is needed to set the standards that patients not only deserve but demand,” said Elfrieda Johnson, President of the Board of Directors for JNESO, District Council 1. “Trenton must give the Department of Health the tools it needs to ensure that those standards are met. Nurses are on the front lines everyday caring for patients at their most vulnerable. We need legislation that protects patients and nurses, and gives the families the necessary information they need to make the right decision regarding their loved ones.”
In 2011, the Christie Administration ended NJ Department of Health (DOH) regular inspections, which had been conducted every other year by a multi-disciplinary team of DOH inspectors over a series of days. Since that time inspections are only required if there is a complaint filed with NJ DOH, which triggers an inspection conducted by two DOH staff persons who are then limited to investigating the complaint area, rather than a thorough inspection of the facility.
“Patients, caregivers and workers deserve to know that their state’s Department of Health is using its broad oversight and enforcement authority to fulfill its mandate to protect the public’s health,” said Ann Twomey, HPAE President. “The disturbing reality is that under the Christie administration the DOH has adopted a laissez-faire approach to oversight and a willingness to accept budget cuts and staff reductions as a cover for abandoning its responsibilities.”
During Governor Christie’s tenure the NJ DOH has gone from a stagnant budget to annual budget decreases, hampering the Department’s ability to fully enforce patient safety regulations and relying on private companies to conduct routine inspections every three years without requiring those companies to inform the public of the details of those inspections.
Adequate funding for the NJ Department of Health is essential to ensure safe staffing and routine inspections. Studies demonstrate the positive relationships between hospital inspections and safe staffing with successful healthcare and treatment.
“In the intensive care unit, we have the most critical patients in the hospital. On one particular night, we started out with seven nurses for fifteen patients, many of which required one to one attention because of severe conditions. Our unit was very intense with multiple unstable patients, and still the supervisor insisted on taking another three admissions throughout the night, without staffing more nurses.” Maria Refinski, RN BSN, NJNU CWA Local 1091.
Healthcare professionals and patients in the Coalition for Patient Rights and Safe Staffing (CPRSS) are advocating for patient safety and healthcare workers’ rights in Trenton. The coalition members are calling for legislation and adequate funding for regular public monitoring of NJ hospitals which they believe is necessary to improve patient safety, reduce errors, enforce safe staffing levels and increase overall patient satisfaction.
Throughout the day the Coalition will meet with NJ Senate and Assemblypersons and join a noon time rally to deliver a message to Governor Christie urging the Administration to protect the rights of patients and workers throughout New Jersey’s healthcare facilities.
The Coalition for Patient Rights and Safe Staffing is a coalition of nursing and healthcare unions and organizations, patient advocacy groups and supporters, all working together to protect patient care in New Jersey hospitals by strengthening and enforcing patient safety and safe staffing laws. For more information or to get involved go to: patientsafetycoalition.com
For immediate release: Monday, February 27, 2017
For more information contact: Bridget Devane, (732) 996-5453, Doug Placa, (732) 745-2776