Nurses Letter

April 9, 2009
Dear Friend,

Nurses are the bedrock of New York State’s health care industry – responsible for the health, well-being and comfort of our citizens – who all too often face long hours with little support.

Forcing nurses to work two or three shifts in a row leads to exhaustion in an already stressful, life-or-death environment. That’s why I helped pass a law ending mandatory overtime for nurses (Ch. 493 of 2008). Effective July 1, 2009, no employer can require a nurse to work more than regularly scheduled hours except in certain specified emergencies. It gives nurses the option of working overtime if they wish to do so, but also stipulates that solely saying no to an overtime request doesn’t constitute abandonment or neglect of duties.

In addition, circulating nurses play a critical role in operating rooms by helping to maintain a safe environment for the patient and coordinate the needs of the surgical team. A law I supported that took effect in October requires that circulating nurses be present in operating rooms for the entire duration of a surgery (Ch. 158 of 2008), ending the practice of using unlicensed personnel in this position. This law will ensure improved patient care and reduce the risk of error during surgery.

Nurses are an essential component of our health care system, and I thank you for all of the time and hard work you devote to the profession. I will continue to advocate on behalf of legislation nurses care deeply about. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact my office at 718-399-7630.

Annette M. Robinson
Member of Assembly