(1) Unless a waiver is granted pursuant to subsection (2) of this section, a skilled nursing facility shall use the services of (a) a licensed registered nurse for at least eight consecutive hours per day, seven days per week and (b) a licensed registered nurse or licensed practical nurse on a twenty-four-hour basis seven days per week. Except when waived under subsection (2) of this section, a skilled nursing facility shall designate a licensed registered nurse or licensed practical nurse to serve as a charge nurse on each tour of duty. The Director of Nursing Services shall be a licensed registered nurse, and this requirement shall not be waived. The Director of Nursing Services may serve as a charge nurse only when the skilled nursing facility has an average daily occupancy of sixty or fewer residents.
(2) The department may waive the evening and night staffing requirements for skilled nursing facilities or for long-term care hospitals certified under Title XVIII of the federal Social Security Act, as amended, except the requirement that the Director of Nursing Services be a licensed registered nurse, if:
(a) The facility or hospital demonstrates to the satisfaction of the department that it has been unable, despite diligent efforts, to hire enough licensed registered nurses and licensed practical nurses to fulfill such requirements. For purposes of this subdivision, diligent efforts include, but are not limited to, offering wages equal to or greater than the community prevailing wage rate being paid such nurses at nursing facilities;
(b) The department determines that a waiver of the requirement will not endanger the health or safety of residents of the facility or hospital; and
(c) The department finds that, for any period in which staffing requirements cannot be met, a licensed registered nurse or a physician is obligated to respond immediately to telephone calls from the facility or hospital.
A waiver granted under this subsection shall be subject to annual review by the department. As a condition of granting or renewing a waiver, a facility or hospital may be required to employ other qualified licensed personnel.
(3) The department may waive the requirement that a skilled nursing facility or long-term care hospital certified under Title XVIII of the federal Social Security Act, as amended, provide a licensed registered nurse on duty at the facility or hospital for more than forty hours per week if:
(a) The facility or hospital is located in a nonurban area where the supply of skilled nursing facility services is not sufficient to meet the needs of individuals residing in the area;
(b) The facility or hospital has one full-time licensed registered nurse who is regularly on duty at the facility or hospital forty hours per week; and
(c) The facility or hospital (i) has only patients whose physicians have indicated through orders or admission or progress notes that the patients do not require the services of a licensed registered nurse or a physician for more than forty hours per week or (ii) has made arrangements for a licensed registered nurse or a physician to spend time at the facility or hospital, as determined necessary by the physician, to provide the necessary services on days when the regular, full-time licensed registered nurse is not on duty.
A waiver may be granted under this subsection for a period of up to one year by the department.