The largest health care union in the country announced it will be launching a multi-million dollar campaign to push for changes in New York’s nursing home industry. 

Citing the New York Attorney General’s report that showed facilities with fewer staff had a higher rate of COVID-19 deaths, 1199SEIU officials say they are supporting legislation that will remove liability protections for nursing home owners and increase staffing levels at facilties. 

“We cannot simply return to pre-pandemic conditions of sub-standard care and low-quality jobs,” Milly Silva, executive vice president of 1199SEIU said. “True comprehensive reform is needed to ensure that residents receive the highest levels of care, and that workers are able to remain safe and healthy as they tend to the residents they know and love. The state must ensure that the billions of taxpayer dollars being spent to provide care are actually being spent on quality care and not siphoned off as excessive profits.”

There are multiple bills already on the table that would remove immunity for nursing home facilities and set minimum staffing requirements

The minimum staffing bill was voted through the Assembly health committee this past week and would create a minimum nurse-to-patient ratio for both hospitals and nursing home facilities. The bill still needs to pass both the Assembly and Senate before it would head to the governor’s desk. 

The union has not yet expressed which specific bills they will be backing, but will be launching a website, releasing a series of ads, and lobbing in Albany. 

This also includes legislation that will require facilities to have better infection control measures and prevent owners with poor track records from buying new homes. 

“Nearly everyone I work with caught COVID-19, including me,” said Ann Marie Fran, a housekeeper in a nursing home in the Hudson Valley/Capital Region. “I’m quite sure I got it on the job and infected my two children, one of whom, one of whom has diabetes and is high-risk. The State Health Department shut down two floors of the home because there weren’t enough caregivers and workers to meet residents’ needs. There were so few housekeepers that a supervisor told me to cut corners. That meant we couldn’t clean rooms every day and the home was not hygienic or safe for anyone."