Senate OKs Goodwin Bill on Nursing Home Staffing 

STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin to protect the health care of Rhode Islanders by setting standards for nursing home care. 

The Senate gave its approval to the Nursing Home Staffing and Quality Care Act (2021-S 0002), which is meant to address an ongoing crisis in nursing home staffing that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The legislation will establish a minimum standard of 4.1 hours of resident care per day, the federal recommendation for quality care and long endorsed by experts including the American Nurses Association, the Coalition of Geriatric Nursing Organizations, and the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care. The bill, which the Senate also approved last year, has been backed by Raise the Bar on Resident Care, a coalition of advocates for patient care.

Rhode Island ranks 41st in the nation in the number of the average hours of care nursing home residents receive, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  Rhode Island has the lowest average resident-care hours per day of any New England state. 

“There is a resident care crisis in our state. Staffing shortages and low wages leads to seniors and people with disabilities not receiving the care they desperately need. The pandemic, of course, has exponentially increased the demands of the job, and exacerbated patients’ needs. We must confront this problem head-on before our nursing home system collapses,” said Senator Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence).

The bill will also secure funding to raise wages for caregivers to recruit and retain a stable and qualified workforce. Short staffing drives high turnover in nursing homes. Not only does high turnover create undue stress and burnout for remaining staff, it diverts valuable resources to recruit, orient and train new employees and increases reliance on overtime and agency staff.  Low wages are a significant driver of the staffing crisis. The median wage for a CNA in Rhode Island is less than $15, and $1/hour lower than the median wage in both Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The legislation will also invest in needed training and skills enhancement for caregivers to provide care for patients with increasing acuity and complex health care needs.

The bill will be forwarded to the House, where Rep. Scott A. Slater (D-Dist. 10, Providence), is sponsoring companion legislation (2021-H 5012). 

A third COVID vaccine could hit the U.S. market soon. Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine is being endorsed by F-D-A staff for emergency use. It could get the F-D-A's official stamp of approval after an advisory committee reviews the company's emergency use authorization request on Friday.        Tiger Woods is recovering from surgery after being injured in a car accident yesterday morning. Doctors reportedly inserted a rod and screws in his right leg below the knee to stabilize what they called multiple open fractures in the two main bones in the lower leg. The crash also broke bones in the 45-year-old's right foot and ankle.       The nearly two-trillion-dollar stimulus bill is drawing criticism from House Republican leaders. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says the Democratic measure is "too costly, too corrupt and too liberal," while Minority Whip Steve Scalise [[ skall-EESE ]] called it a liberal wish list. Meanwhile, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a relief package providing 600-dollar stimulus payments to low-income Californians.       Bruce Springsteen is having some of his drunk driving charges dropped and is pleading guilty to a lesser charge. Springsteen appeared in court by video conference on charges of driving while intoxicated, reckless driving and consuming alcohol in a closed area after allegedly drinking with fans at a parking lot in Sandy Hook, New Jersey back in November. The rocker pleaded guilty to consuming alcohol in a closed area and was fined 540-dollars.       The House is assessing the mental health impact and physical damages following the January 6th Capitol attack. Democrat Tim Ryan of Ohio said Congress cannot "militarize" the Capitol in response to a ransacking of representative democracy. Republican Jamie Herrera Beutler [[ butler ]] of Washington state said Congress should assess what needs to be repaired, while also preserving marks from that day as a historical reminder.       Ghost restaurants are on the rise due to coronavirus. These are delivery only kitchens that may operate out of another brand's location. Restaurant tech expert Kristen Hawley says one kitchen might be operating as a chicken, pizza, burger and salad restaurant all at the same time.