Seventeen ADAPT activists began a sit-in at the headquarters of the New York State Nurses Association this past Wednesday and haven’t left yet. ADAPT says it will not leave the NYSNA headquarters until the nurse’s union supports allowing specially-trained personal assistants to take on some tasks currently performed by nurses.
The protest was sparked after a meeting at the state capitol when a lobbyist for the nurses’ group told ADAPT members they “weren’t getting anything” without the union’s support.
Activists want changes to the state’s Nurse Practices Act so specially-trained attendants can give medications, assist with ventilator care, feeding tubes, suppositories, and perform similar activities. “We currently have quads who have nurses come to their homes three days a week so they can go to the bathroom,“ says Bruce Darling, an ADAPT organizer. Darling is also CEO of the Albany-based Center for Disability Rights, a provider of personal assistance services
The Nurses Association has also dug in its heels, unwilling to support a law change it considers unsafe and unsound. “This approach is dangerous in the broader health care setting, and is being used to impose a corporate agenda on our health care system,” said NYSNA political director Leon Bell in a statement. But, said Bell, the association supports in-home services. “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.”
Activists say demedicalizing home care is necessary if New York plans to implement the Community First Choice Option. The option, which is part of the Affordable Care Act, amends state Medicaid so community-based care is easier to access. States that decide to participate receive a 6 percent increase in their federal matching Medicaid funds.