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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Disabled Activists ADAPT protest targets nurses' union over change in New York home health care law - Victory with the NY Nurses Association!!

the articles below covering the events of this post start from original post to the most current below

Disabled activists make their presence felt

By Claire Hughes | TimesUnion.com | March 21, 2014

Members of Adapt, a disabilities advocacy group, occupy the NYS Nurses Association Office, upset that nurses won't back an amendment to a bill that would broaden the kind of caretakers who would be able to perform certain tasks that are now limited to nurses, on Thursday March 20, 2014 in Colonie, N.Y. (Michael P. Farrell/Times Union) Photo: Michael P. Farrell / 00026230A
Members of Adapt, a disabilities advocacy group, occupy the NYS Nurses Association Office, upset that nurses won't back an amendment to a bill that would broaden the kind of caretakers who would be able to perform certain tasks that are now limited to nurses, on Thursday March 20, 2014 in Colonie, N.Y. (Michael P. Farrell/Times Union)

Colonie, N.Y.
Fifteen activists remained Friday evening at the Latham office of the New York State Nurses Association, whose lobby they have occupied since Wednesday to protest the union's position on a law setting forth tasks only nurses can perform.
"We have spread ourselves out for the long haul," Bruce Darling, organizer of the group called ADAPT, wrote in a text message to theTimes Union.
At 9:30 p.m., the group had ordered pizza and wings and was prepared to stay overnight, he told the Times Union.
"It's kind of like a little village," he said. Darling said another carload of supporters would arrive Saturday.
NYSNA has been providing food for the activists, but Darling said the group stopped eating it. Some ADAPT members have left NYSNA's office since Wednesday, but been replaced by new recruits.
"We told them yesterday we came here for our freedom," Darling wrote. "Not free food."
The activists, Rochester and Binghamton residents with American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today, are demanding that the labor union change its position on a proposed amendment to the Nurse Practice Act.
The law dictates that only nurses can perform certain tasks, such as administering medication and assisting patients with their ventilators.
ADAPT wants a new category of worker called "advanced home health aides" to be allowed to perform those and other tasks, a change the group says would allow more disabled people to get services in their homes rather than requiring them to live in institutions.
The group supports two proposals in the budget submitted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that together would accomplish these goals, according to ADAPT organizer Bruce Darling.
NYSNA claims ADAPT's goals could be achieved through regulatory changes permitting nurses to delegate tasks performed in patients' homes. It opposes the proposed law change on the grounds that it could allow less-skilled health workers in hospitals and other health settings to perform tasks now done by nurses.
"We are working to address concerns that ADAPT has raised without eroding standards of nursing care," NYSNA said in a statement.
In the Assembly, the issue is before the Higher Education Committee because the state Education Department oversees nursing and other professions.
Committee Chair Deborah Glick said she hopes to hear from NYSNA representatives over the weekend with ideas about how to address their concerns while allowing an expansion of services by direct-care attendants to some community-based settings.
Glick disagrees, however, with some of ADAPT's positions. She called the idea that an advanced home health aide could give medication to a person with dementia, for instance — something ADAPT advocates — "too scary for me."
Glick would prefer to see policy conversations occur outside budget talks, she said.
"That has always been our position, that these kinds of changes to either scope of practice or licensure or professional certifications shouldn't be matters for the budget," Glick said.
Activists decided to stand their ground at NYSNA's offices after a meeting at the Capitol Wednesday, when a lobbyist for the nurses' group told ADAPT members, "You're not getting this unless we approve," Darling said.
"So at that point it was very clear where the block was," Darling said.

Disabled protesters target nurses' group

Overnight rallies seek use of "advanced home health aides

By Claire Hughes |  TimesUnion.com | March 20, 2014

Colonie, New York
About a dozen disabled people, members of ADAPT, were on their way to camping out a second night late Thursday in the lobby of the New York State Nurses Association following an impasse over a proposal that would allow health workers other than nurses to perform tasks such as administering medicine and providing ventilator assistance.
ADAPT, which stands for American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today, wants changes made to the state's Nurse Practice Act to allow a new group of workers called "advanced home health aides" to perform some tasks now done by nurses only. The group claims the changes are needed to allow disabled people to get care in their homes instead of institutions.
NYSNA, a labor union, is against the proposed amendment to the Nurse Practice Act because it might allow less-skilled health workers in hospitals and other health settings to perform tasks now done by nurses. The union claims ADAPT's goals could be achieved through regulatory changes allowing nurses to delegate some tasks performed in the home.
"This approach is dangerous in the broader health care setting, and is being used to impose a corporate agenda on our health care system," NYSNA Political Director Leon Bell said in a statement.
Talks between the groups broke down at the Capitol Wednesday, according to Bruce Darling, an ADAPT organizer from Rochester. After failing to reach agreement with NYSNA, ADAPT members protested outside Assembly chambers. Some dropped out of wheelchairs to show their dismay over absence of the amendment in the Assembly's budget proposal, according to Darling. The activists believe the Assembly would get behind the proposal with the nurses' support.
ADAPT members then headed to NYSNA's office on Cornell Road, near the Albany International Airport, to continue their discussion. But talks failed there, too, he said. The disabled activists, from Rochester and Binghamton, refused to leave the building Wednesday. A NYSNA staff member stayed with them overnight.
On Thursday afternoon, the activists were in the NYSNA lobby, eating pizza and ziti provided by the union. Darling said the group was ready to be arrested rather than leave the building without agreement on changes to the Nurse Practice Act.
Among them was Bobbi Wallach, who has multiple sclerosis and lived more than four years in a Rochester nursing home before moving to a townhouse in nearby Webster three years ago. At the nursing facility, she had to sleep and wake at designated times, could shower only once a week, and had everything that entered or exited her body accounted for.
She is happier with help at home, paid for by Medicaid, 16 hours a day.
"It enhances my well-being, it gives me independence," she said. "I feel like the whole world's opened up to me."
Wallach is able to get care in her own home because she is able to direct the services that attendants provide, Darling said. But others — such as those with dementia or on ventilators — do not have that choice.
The activists are part of a national group pushing states to offer all disabled people the option of staying in their homes and getting community-based services. New York has been seen as a model that might lead the nation in the initiative, Darling said.

Disability rights activists' encampment goes on

14 disability rights activists stay encamped over nursing law issue

By Jordan Carleo-Evangelist | TimesUnion.co | March 23, 2014
Colonie, New York --Netflix is streaming in the auditorium, clothes lines are strung across the lobby and the 14 remaining disability rights advocates occupying the headquarters of the state nurses' union said Saturday they're in for the long haul — despite dwindling supplies of crucial medications and the hospitalization of one their own.

As the protest at the New York State Nurses Association stretched into its 72nd hour, organizer Bruce Darling acknowledged the group never planned to be encamped in the Cornell Road office park so long.

"It's becoming problematic," Darling said of the shortages of medicines relied on by some of the occupiers, members of the group American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today, or ADAPT.

The group took over the union's lobby Wednesday to protest NYSNA's opposition to an amendment to the Nurse Practice Act that would allow a new category of workers, advanced home health aides, to perform some jobs currently restricted to nurses.

Expanding responsibility for those jobs — like administering medicine and assisting clients with ventilators — would make it easier for those in need of those services to continue to live in their homes rather than being prematurely forced into skilled nursing facilities, the occupiers argue.

The remaining protesters, who hail from the Rochester area, set up camp in the NYSNA office as state budget talks heat up at the Capitol.

On Saturday — as fresh pairs of underwear were secured and the movie "21 & Over" streamed on a projector in a commandeered auditorium off the lobby — Darling awaited word of progress.

In a statement, union political director Leon Bell said the leadership was "working around the clock" to come up with a solution that would address ADAPT's concerns "while ensuring the standards of nursing care."

"We fully support the rights of all New Yorkers to be independent in their own homes, and the right to any and all care needed to maintain that independence," Bell said. "Quality home care depends on having a complete team of medical professionals, including doctors, nurses and home health aides."

Union spokeswoman Eliza Bates could not say whether NYSNA would open its offices Monday.

Darling said medication supplies are running low because the occupiers did not plan to be camped out so long.

Around 10 a.m. Saturday, one protester, Jensen Caraballo, was hospitalized for unspecified reasons and was expected to be held overnight, but Darling said Caraballo's ailment was not medication related.

"We are known as the Navy SEALs of the disability rights movement," Darling said. "A lot of people have said to us, 'Please be safe.' You don't call your Navy SEAL s on up and say 'please be safe' in the middle of a battle.' "

ADAPT update March 23, 2014 9:00 pm

The ADAPT activists who have occupied the offices of the New York State Nurses Association appreciate the outpouring of support from the disability community and others across the nation. It has been over 100 hours since members of NYS ADAPT started the occupation of the NYSNA offices because the union opposes amending the Nurse Practice Act to allow attendants to do health related tasks.

Throughout the occupation, we have negotiated with the nurses union in good faith to get their support for nurse delegation so people who need assistance with health-related tasks - including medication administration, ventilator care, assistance with catheters, suppositories and feeding tubes - can get that assistance in the community from attendants.

By allowing advanced home health aides to do health related tasks, New York State will be able to implement the Community First Choice (CFC) Option. This Medicaid State Plan Option would assure that any individual eligible for institutional placement is able to access services and supports to live in the community. Under CFC, NYS would receive additional federal funding and would significantly expand the services and supports for people with disabilities living independently. Additionally, after expanding the availability of services, it is estimated that CFC at full implementation would generate an extra $340 million a year, every year.

On Wednesday, when we first arrived at NYSNA, there was significant disagreement about the provision of assistance with health related tasks, and we were concerned that NYSNAs advocacy was focused on preventing people with disabilities from getting assistance with key health related tasks to live independently. We explained that full implementation of the Community First Choice Option means that no person with a disability should be forced into an institution because they cannot get assistance with health related tasks.

Through our negotiations, we secured a statement from NYSNA supporting the rights of all New Yorkers to be independent in their own homes, and the rights to any and all care needed to maintain that independence. In that same statement, NYSNA said that To be clear, NYSNA fully supports the implementation of the Community First Choice program. NYSNA also proposed alternative legislative language amending NYS education law to allow advanced home health aides to do health related tasks. We are now being told that NYSNAs language creates a contradiction between education law that would authorize nurse delegation and the Nurse Practice Act in health law that precludes this.

We are not union lobbyists or lawyers; nor are we governmental officials or legislators. We are people with disabilities who want to secure our civil right to live in freedom in the community. We are also activists, and we will hold the union, legislature and our governmental officials accountable.

We have fought for 24 years to secure the right to live in the community rather than be forced into institutions. We will not wait any longer, so NYS ADAPT is continuing our occupation of the NYSNA offices.


Because of the legal problems that appear to be created by NYSNA's proposed language, NYS ADAPT demands that NYSNA immediately provide a compelling legal analysis demonstrating that their language does not - in fact create a contradiction between health and education law. If NYSNA is unable to provide such a compelling legal argument, it must agree to address the contradiction by supporting the addition of a notwithstanding clause to their language or support an amendment to the Nurse Practice Act.

NYS ADAPT further demands that the New York State Assembly Democrats ensure the civil rights of people with disabilities by supporting budget language that authorizes advanced home health aides to do health related tasks, and if necessary, amends the Nurse Practice Act in order to fully implement the Community First Choice Option, end the Medicaid institutional bias, and FREE OUR PEOPLE!

*posted at  NATIONAL ADAPT facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NationalAdapt


Protesters 'move in' to the Latham Nurses Association Offices

WNYT-TV on NBC.com | March 23, 2014

New York -- Seventeen members of the group "ADAPT" are living in the Latham Office of the New York State Nurses Association. They're sponge bathing and washing their clothes in the restrooms. Laundry is drying in the lobby.

The protestors are eating fast food, watching movies in the auditorium, and sleeping in the conference rooms where the homemade signs read, "No Nurses."

They're angry that the union is opposing changes to the State's nurse practice law that would allow advanced home health aides to take over certain nursing duties.

"That would allow attendants to perform tasks we need to be able to stay in our homes, like giving us medications, assisting with ventilator care, feeding tubes, suppositories that type of thing," said ADAPT organizer Bruce Darling.

Several of the protestors used to live in a nursing home, but now live in their own home.

They say amending the law would allow even more people to leave institutions and they're accusing the union of trying to blocking that.

"They're playing with people's lives. We all have a right to be free, and do what we want to do. That is our right," said Bobbi Wallach, who lives with Multiple Sclerosis.

The union's political director issued a statement saying, "we fully support the rights of all New Yorkers to be independent in their own homes, and the right to any and all care needed to maintain that independence."

The union favors having a nurse supervise that care, saying "quality home care depends on having a complete team of medical professionals, including doctors, nurses and home health aides." The protestors call that putting profit over patients. They're vowing to stay.


Editorial: A health care checkup

TimesUnion.com | March 24, 2014

Bobbi Wallach and other members of Adapt, a disabilities advocacy group, occupy the NYS Nurses Association Office, upset that nurses won't back an amendment to a bill that would broaden the kind of caretakers who would be able to perform certain tasks that are now limited to nurses, on Thursday March 20, 2014 in Colonie, N.Y. (Michael P. Farrell/Times Union) Photo: Michael P. Farrell / 00026230A
Bobbi Wallach and other members of Adapt, a disabilities advocacy group, occupy the NYS Nurses Association Office, upset that nurses won't back an amendment to a bill that would broaden the kind of caretakers who would be able to perform certain tasks that are now limited to nurses, on Thursday March 20, 2014 in Colonie, N.Y. (Michael P. Farrell/Times Union) 

The health care industry grapples with issues of care and turf.
What's in the best interests of patients is the real question.
Last week's sit-in at the New York State Nurses Association is just one symptom of a broader issue: how we balance our desire for quality care with our demand for affordable care.
It's time for New York state to take a deeper look.
This isn't a problem we should be resolving one ache at a time. As aging baby boomers require more health services, the state needs to be looking comprehensively at how it helps — and hinders — the health care industry in providing the best possible service at a cost individuals and society can afford.
We might start by acknowledging that there isn't necessarily a clear right and wrong side in disagreements like the one between NYSNA, which is a union of nurses, and ADAPT, short for Americans Disabled for Attendant Programs Today, which staged the demonstration.
ADAPT wants NYSNA to support a proposed amendment to the Nurse Practice Act, which allows only nurses to perform certain tasks, such as administering medication or helping patients with equipment like ventilators. Activists for the disabled want the law to allow certain care to be done in people's homes by "advanced home health aides," which would both bring down the cost and allow more people to provide the services.
The nurses union, however, is concerned about the safety of the idea, as well as the potential for this to erode nursing care in other settings, such as hospitals.
This is just one of a host of such debates on who in the health care sector should do what. It comes at a time when nurses are at odds with hospitals, nursing homes and other institutional settings over minimum staffing levels. Nurse practitioners, meanwhile, want the state to loosen the requirement that they work under a doctor's supervision, which they say would provide more options for care, especially in areas short of physicians. In that argument, it's doctors who voice concerns about patient safety.
Questions abound. How much care does a particular sick or disabled or elderly individual need on a daily basis? How much help would be needed in a home setting, as opposed to an institution? How much riskier is it for a well-trained aide to administer certain kinds of care than if a relative with no training at all did it? Or for a nurse or a physician assistant to perform many medical tasks that are well within their skill set, without a doctor's supervision?
We don't presume to know the answers to these kinds of questions, but New York should seek them. Gov. Andrew Cuomo should appoint a commission to take a hard — and public — look at the question of who performs health care in the state, who isn't allowed to, and why or why not. Are there barriers to a more effective system that have less to do with health concerns and more to do with various interests and professions trying to protect their turf?
In short, could we do it just as well, or even better, for less? If so, then why don't we?


Protesters end week-long occupation of 

NY nurses union office

 by Jon Campbell | LoHud.com | March 26, 2016

A small group of protesters on Wednesday ended its week-long occupation of the Albany-area office of the state nurses union, vacating the lobby around 3 a.m., according to organizers.
SitinThe disability-rights advocates—including some from the Rochester and Binghamton area—first took over the New York State Nurses Association’s Latham office on March 19. The office remained closed as the sit-in took place.
A group of as many as 20 protesters stayed over each night in an attempt to force the union into supporting a change in state law that would allow non-nurses to administer certain medical services to disabled patients, said Bruce Darling, an organizer for ADAPT, a disabled-rights group.
Darling, a Hilton, Monroe County, resident and CEO of the Rochester-based Center for Disability Rights, said the activists left after confirming the union would support bill language that was acceptable to the group.
“They’re pushing that language today, so we declared victory and left their offices,” Darling said Wednesday. “We got what we needed, so we’re thrilled.”
The protesters had stayed in the office 24 hours a day, with protesters sleeping on chairs, the floor and air mattresses, Darling said. Darling himself only left the property once over the week, he said.
The change in state law would help implement the federal Community First Choice Option, which took effect in 2011 and gave states the option to provide home-based attendants to Medicaid enrollees with disabilities. The program comes with a 6 percent boost in federal matching funds for any related services provided to patients.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo included language in his budget proposal that would allow certain non-nurses – known as “advanced home health aides” – to provide certain services to disabled patients, including administering medication, feeding tubes or catheters.
The state Senate backed the changes, but the Assembly’s one-house budget proposal didn’t include it. Prior to the occupation of the union office, ADAPT protesters disrupted the Assembly’s session on March 19.
This week, the nurses union backed changes to state law that would create a task force within 60 days that would produce recommendations on how to define the qualifications for “advanced home health aides” and what types of tasks they can provide.
“ADAPT has raised important and valid concerns about access to care and the ability of all New Yorkers to live independently in their own homes, and we feel that our proposal fully addresses these concerns,” the union wrote in a statement before the end of the sit-in.
Darling said the group will now return its focus to the state Assembly in an attempt to get them to back the change before the state budget is passed. Cuomo and state lawmakers face a Monday deadline to pass a spending plan for the 2014-15 fiscal year, which begins the next day.
“It’s a model that works in other states,” Darling said. “What we’re asking for is cost effective. It gets people into the community.”
(Photo provided by ADAPT)

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