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Legislative Committee approves nursing home staffing bill

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It is estimated that there are 23,000 Connecticut residents in the state’s 220 nursing homes.

The majority, about 20,000, are covered by Medicaid,which means the majority of the funding comes through the state budget.

Yvonne Foster of Bloomfield has worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant at a nursing home in Windsor for the past 18 years. She’s now the local Health Care Workers Union delegate, and said the ratio of patients to CNA’s can be as high as 12 to one during the day and 25 to 30 to one at night.

She added, They will sit there, we can’t get there. The lights are going off and needs are there, we hear their cry but we can’t get there in a timely manner, so that’s a big problem for me.

On Tuesday, a legislative committee overwhelmingly passed a bill that would increase the required amount of time that CNA’s spend with patients each day. 

Rep. Michelle Cook (D-Torrington) is a member of the Human Services Committee, and said, We recognize that the Certified Nursing Assistants really do the ‘grunt work’ in a nursing home and this is what that’s about. This is about raising the hours of which a Certified Nursing Assistant should be caring for each and every individual patient in a nursing home.

But that would obviously require more CNA’s and, because the majority of nursing home patients are on Medicaid, it will require the state to kick in more money. 

Rep. Jay Case (R-Winsted), is also a member of the committee.

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He added, It’s going to have to go to appropriations to get a dollar figure assigned to it because we will have to fund it and we will have to look at it and that’s where we need to prioritize things in this building.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities, which represents most of the state’s nursing homes, said, We’re glad that the Connecticut General Assembly is putting focus and attention on nursing home staffing issues, but it will come at a cost and it really gets to the underlying issue.

And that underlying issue is how much more is the state willing to pay for Medicaid funding.

Another nursing home bill would require simple language staffing notices to be posted at nursing homes. 

The health care workers union is planning to bring many of its members to the Capitol on Wednesday to advocate with lawmakers for that one which is yet to come up in committee.

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