Christie nixes minimum staffing for nursing homes

Susan K. Livio, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie rejected legislation Tuesday that would have required nursing homes in New Jersey to adhere to strict staffing quotas for certified nursing assistants — the professionals whom patients rely on most for their daily needs.

The state Legislature approved a bill that would have required one nursing assistant for every eight residents during the day shift, one for every 10 patients during the late day shift, and one for every 16 residents on the overnight shift, according to the bill (A4636).

Nursing home operators challenged the bill because they said it would hinder their ability to make staffing decisions based on patient need.

But unions that represented aides said staffing levels can dip dangerously low, compromising patient safety.

"The stakes are simply too high to accept the status quo, and the healthcare workers of 1199 SEIU will do everything it takes to win legislation that will make New Jersey a place where our seniors are cared for with dignity and humanity," said Milly Silva, executive vice president of the health workers union. "Improving nursing home staffing will continue to be a priority issue for our union in the weeks and months to come."

Christie did not issue a statement explaining why he vetoed the bill.