New nursing home rules for care now in effect

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A new law is now in effect that will require nursing homes to provide at least 3 ½ hours of direct nursing care to each resident every day. But while the law looks good on paper, putting it into practice may continue to be a challenge.

“The vast majority of states have long had minimum staffing standards for their nursing homes, New York is one of the 10 or so states that did not have it and we finally made it,” said Richard Mollot of the Long Term Care Community Collation of the implementation of the law.

Many employees at nursing homes will also share stories similar to LPN, Julie Martinez.

“A couple of weeks ago, I was the only nurse in the building with no CNAs with 37 residence which is absolutely ridiculous.”

Most nursing homes were understaffed before the pandemic and things have only gotten worse since. Dozens of local nursing homes closed their doors to new admissions because they couldn’t keep up with the residents they already had which backed up patients needing care in local hospitals.

The main reprieve locally has been the temporary help of the National Guard at Monroe Community Hospital and they’ll be leaving soon.

“Once that transition happens and they’re no longer in the nursing homes you’re probably going to see nursing homes start to shut themselves back down a little bit more because now you might be getting fined if you take those admissions beyond that required ratio of patient care is that the state is going to enforce,” said Executive Director Alyssa Tallowe.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said he’s still meeting weekly with the hospitals and a number of local nursing homes.

“That flow is still not where it needs to be and until nursing home staffing can be increased to meet that demand coming from the hospitals we’re still going to have this problem,” he told News10NBC.

Bello said there are a few things that could help.

“There has to be an increase in the Medicaid reimbursement rate for nursing homes, it hasn’t been increased in any meaningful way in years and in the budget this year that’s proposed in Albany, it increases the reimbursement by 1% that’s not enough to really make a measurable impact,” Bello said

And then of course, there’s the recruitment of healthcare workers.

“We need to incentivize more people, pay for that training, pay people to be in that training because oftentimes it’s hard for people—they want to go into these training programs, they want to be a CNA but they can’t afford not just the training but the time off from other work activities to do the training,” Bello added.