Nurse helping woman walk with walker
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A proposal that would decrease Florida’s nursing requirement for skilled nursing facilities by one hour is being rejected by certified nursing assistants across the state. 

The measure, SB 804, was introduced by state Sen. Ben Albritton (R) earlier this month. SNFs are currently required to provide a minimum of 3.6 hours of nursing care per day to residents, with a minimum of 2.5 hours being provided by a CNA. Under the measure, the 3.6 hour requirement would be reduced by one hour and the 2.5 hours of CNA care would morph and allow providers to instead provide 2.5 hours of “direct care.” 

Direct care providers could include licensed nurses or other individuals who, “through interpersonal contact with residents or resident care management, provide care and services to allow residents to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being,” according to the bill. 

Currently, providers who don’t meet the minimum staffing requirements for two days straight are banned from accepting new residents until they can meet the mandate for six straight days. If approved, the measure would eliminate that ban and instead institute a $1,000 fine. 

Industry leaders in the state have previously called on lawmakers to rethink minimum staffing measures, especially after provider costs increased by more than $300 million since the start of the pandemic.

Proponents argue that relaxed standards could help attract more workers to the industry and provide more support by allowing for other individuals, such as therapists and non-medical workers, to provide staffing help. CNAs, however, argued this week the measure could lead to residents getting hurt because an “untrained worker” could be taking their place. 

“It’s scary. It’s extremely scary because as a CNA there’s different things that are serious,” Kaydra Bonamy, a CNA at the Rehabilitation Center of Winter Park, in Winter Park, FL, told local media Tuesday.

“You’re dealing with human beings, you’re not dealing with a burger or a fry. You’re dealing with someone’s life,” she added.