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Biden administration establishes minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes

FILE - Tina Sandri, CEO of Forest Hills of DC senior living facility, left, helps resident Courty Andrews back to her room, Dec. 8, 2022, in Washington. The federal government will, for the first time, dictate staffing levels at nursing homes, the Biden administration said Friday, Sept. 1, 2023, responding to systemic problems bared by mass COVID deaths.
Nathan Howard
/
AP
Tina Sandri, CEO of Forest Hills of DC senior living facility, left, helps resident Courty Andrews back to her room, Dec. 8, 2022, in Washington.

New federal rules announced by the Biden administration Monday establish minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes.

Brenda Gallant, Maine's long term care ombudsman, said nursing homes here must already meet similar state required staffing levels. But Gallant said the federal standards will require that a registered nurse be on duty 24-7, which she supports.

"The importance of adequate staffing can't be under-estimated. It's really a critical part of care and quality of life for residents," she said.

But the Maine Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes, called the new rules deeply troubling. President Angela Westhoff said it's an unfunded mandate that ignores the current worker shortage, and could force some nursing homes to close.

"First of all, where are these bodies going to come from? Nurses need to be trained. It takes four years to train an RN and we don't have enough training slots. So it's deeply troubling that this mandate would be passed without recognition of the staffing crisis that all of health care is experiencing," Westhoff said.

The Biden administration said the new requirements will be introduced in phases and that rural facilities will have more time to comply.