Prompted by a court order, the California Department of Public Health (DPH) recently issued long-delayed nursing staff to resident ratios for nursing homes. A 2001 California law (AB 1075) required DPH to establish and implement regulations converting the existing minimum requirement of 3.2 nursing hours per resident day into staff to resident ratios by August 1, 2003.
Due to its longstanding failure to issue the required regulations, the Foundation Aiding the Elderly (FATE) sued DPH in September 2006 and obtained an August 1, 2007 court order requiring DPH to issue staff to resident regulations that became effective on or before October 12, 2007.
Although DPH finally issued emergency regulations on October 16, 2007, the regulations state they won’t take effect until the California legislature makes an appropriation to fund their costs. Together with a vastly exaggerated cost estimate, this condition seems designed to ensure the regulations will never be implemented.
Thus, DPH is defeating the law’s purpose to make it easy for residents, families, inspectors and others to determine whether or not a nursing home is meeting minimum staffing requirements. The ratios were also intended to benefit residents by setting minimum ratios of licensed nurses to residents.
CANHR has many concerns about the emergency regulations, which are detailed in our January 28, 2008 comment letter (pdf).
On January 28, 2008, FATE filed a contempt motion in San Francisco Superior Court seeking enforcement of the earlier court order.
The emergency regulations and explanatory materials are available on the DPH website at: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/services/DPOPP/regs/Pages/DPH-03-010E-SNFNursingStafftoPatientRatios.aspx