Protesters push changes to NY Nurse Practice Act

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Logo for ADAPT, graphic of person in a wheelchair breaking chains that bind the arms.

Direct action victory

From March 19 to March 26, a group of 20 protesters occupied the headquarters of the New York State Nurses Union in Albany, demanding support for a proposed change in state law that would expand the services non-nurses can provide to people with disabilities.The protesters led by ADAPT, long known for its direct action techniques, called for an amendment to the Nurse Practice Act. The change would allow certain service providers, known as “advanced home health aids,” to administer medications, feeding tubes, catheters and other devices which help people with disabilities remain in their homes.As the protesters see it, the change is necessary to ensure that patients can avoid having to transfer to institutional settings.

“I like my independence and my freedom,” activist Bobbi Wallach told NBC News. “[The union is] playing with people’s lives. We all have a right to be free, and do what we want to do. That is our right.”

The nurses union has resisted the change because it could cost nurses jobs and intrude on their traditional responsibilities.

The protest ended when the nurses union agreed to support a bill that proposed this change, as well as to create a task force within 60 days to make recommendations on what services can be provided by “advanced home health aids.”

The proposal was included in the State Senate’s and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget, but was not in the Assembly’s budget.

“They’re pushing that language today, so we declared victory and left their offices. We got what we needed, so we’re thrilled, “said Bruce Darling, an organizer for ADAPT, told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.

A video about the protests is on Rochester Homepage.net.