As state considers legislation, must-see video from the New York Times features nurses explaining the real crisis
OLYMPIA (Jan. 19, 2022) — Sen. June Robinson (D-Everett) and Rep. Marcus Riccelli (D-Spokane) have introduced bipartisan legislation to create new safe staffing standards for hospitals in Washington state, which will help protect healthcare workers and ensure patients get the care they deserve. The legislation is strongly supported by the WA Safe + Healthy coalition of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, the Washington State Nurses Association and UFCW 21, which collectively represent more than 71,000 healthcare workers in the state, as well as the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.
Today, The New York Times released an opinion video — We Know the Real Cause of the Crisis in Our Hospitals. It’s Greed. — that features interviews with nurses about their experiences before and during the pandemic. It’s a must-see.
The Times reports that in the video:
Nurses set the record straight about the root cause of the nursing crisis: chronic understaffing by profit-driven hospitals that predates the pandemic. “I could no longer work in critical care under the conditions I was being forced to work under with poor staffing,” explains one nurse, “and that’s when I left.” They also tear down the common misconception that there’s a shortage of nurses. In fact, there are more qualified nurses today in America than ever before.
To keep patients safe and protect our health care workers, lawmakers could regulate nurse-patient ratios, which California put in place in 2004, with positive results. These laws could save patient lives and create a more just work environment for a vulnerable generation of nurses, the ones we pledged to honor and protect at the start of the pandemic.
In a December poll of about 1,200 Washington healthcare workers, 84 percent of healthcare workers said they’re burned out, and half (49 percent) said they’re likely to quit health care in the next few years. Among those likely to quit, 71 percent said short-staffing was among their primary reasons. The proposed legislation will begin to finally address the hospital staffing crisis by making healthcare workers’ jobs safer and more manageable.
Sen. Robinson’s SB 5751 and Rep. Riccelli’s HB 1868 would finally begin to address the hospital staffing crisis by:
Creating safe staffing standards that protect any one healthcare worker from dangerously high patient loads and creating adequate enforcement mechanisms to ensure hospitals follow safety standards.
Closing loopholes and enforcing existing break and overtime laws to ensure hospitals are complying with already-passed legislation to ensure healthcare workers get legally-required meal and rest break time, as well as ending the current abuse of mandatory overtime.