Contact: Joshua Fitzpatrick, (518) 455-3751
For Immediate Release:
May 13, 2008

Tedisco, Assembly Minority Call for Action to Solve New York's Nursing Shortage Crisis

As New York's nursing shortage reaches crisis proportions and threatens the delivery of quality health care, Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady-Saratoga) and the Assembly Minority Conference today called for legislative action to address the shortfall by providing educational and financial incentives to attract and retain nurses.

During a press conference held at the State Capitol this afternoon, Tedisco and his Assembly Minority colleagues called for passage of their Conference's five-bill legislative package aimed at addressing New York's nursing shortage.

Numerous health care advocacy groups, such as the Health Care Association of New York State (HANYS), have reported on New York's shortage of nurses and the detrimental impact it has on patient care. A recent HANYS report stated that four out of five hospitals in the state are facing a nursing shortage. The report also referenced a federal finding that New York could experience a shortage of approximately 37,000 nurses by 2015.

"New York's nurses serve on the 'front lines' in administering quality, compassionate medical care in our hospitals, nursing homes, schools and clinics. They are a vital resource and an indispensable link in our health care system. However, New York is simply not doing enough to give nurses the tools and incentives they need - and rightfully deserve," Tedisco stated.

"The nursing shortage facing our state is not new. Back in 2001, our Assembly Minority Nursing Shortage Task Force issued a detailed report outlining several specific steps needed to address the looming shortage. Not nearly enough was done and our state finds its shortfall of nurses even greater than we had originally forecast. In response, our Conference is again renewing its call for swift legislative action to provide financial and educational incentives to attract and retain nurses and, most importantly, grow the nursing profession," Tedisco said.

"Scholarships and loan forgiveness programs for nursing students are needed," said Tina Gerardi, MS, RN, CAE and Chief Executive Officer of the New York State Nurses Association. "By supporting nursing students, the state would demonstrate its commitment to increasing the nursing workforce and affirm the importance of registered nurses in the health care system." Gerardi also stressed the importance of improving workplace conditions to keep RNs in the workforce.

"Even in the midst of Berger-mandated reconfiguration, the long-term need for an aging population for the special skills of nurses is clear and apparent," said Marilyn Stapleton, PhD, RN, Director, Ellis Hospital School of Nursing. "We support New York state's efforts to encourage and support careers in nursing, and as a hospital with a school of nursing, we look forward to working with them to address this issue. "

"The health care system in New York State and across this country cannot and will not survive without a commitment to increasing the number of professionals who administer life-saving care," said HANYS President Daniel Sisto. "The workforce shortage is not going away. In fact, statistics show us that it will almost certainly get alarmingly worse. We need policymakers to take effective action that opens the door to increased resources, training, and education so that more nurses and health care professionals can join the workforce."

The legislation offered by Tedisco and his Assembly Minority colleagues includes the following measures:

  • Assembly Bill A.4980-A (Assemblyman Jim Bacalles): Enacts the "New York State Nursing Shortage Correction Act." Establishes the New York State nursing recruitment incentive and retention program and provides for the reimbursement of student loans if a person is a registered and licensed nurse. Directs that SUNY and CUNY shall pay for a person's education if such person signs a contract stating that he or she shall work in New York state as a registered nurse;

  • Assembly Bill A.3001-A (Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava): Establishes the "Empire State Professional Nursing Scholarship Program" to provide financial support to applicants to enter or continue in registered nurse educational programs and who agree to deliver nursing care in a specialty, setting or designated region of New York having a shortage of nurses or to teach nursing students;

  • Assembly Bill A.4757 (Assemblyman Bob Barra): Establishes the "Regents Nursing Professional's Loan Forgiveness Program" for applicants who agree to engage in employment as nurses in hospitals, nursing homes and hospice centers;

  • Assembly Bill A.4158 (Assemblyman Bob Barra): Creates a baccalaureate and associate nursing assistance program within the Department of Health to provide loans to persons in pursuit of nursing degrees at a college or university in the state. Provides that nurses receiving loans will be obligated for one year of service as nurses in New York for each year assistance was received; and

  • Assembly Bill A.5221 (Assemblyman Dave Townsend): Provides for the preservation of a claimant's eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits while the claimant is studying to become a certified teacher or a registered professional nurse in a training program that does not take more than 48 months to complete.

"In order to provide quality health care to its patients, a hospital must have a solid nursing staff," said Assemblyman Jim Bacalles (R,C,I-Corning). "Legislative actions must be taken in Albany to resolve this shortage before hospitals are forced to curtail services due to a lack of nurses."

"New York's nursing shortage has reached a critical level," said Assemblywoman Dierdre 'Dede' Scozzafava (R-Gouverneur). "We must provide incentives on a statewide level to keep employed nurses from leaving, while at the same time attracting new ones to the field."

"Every person in New York deserves access to the best health care possible. Helping providers is a crucial step in making that happen," said Assemblyman Robert D. Barra (R,C,I-14th Assembly District). "Our nursing shortage is reaching catastrophic proportions. With proper incentives, the issue of retaining dedicated health care professionals while providing excellent care to those who need it most can be resolved."

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