NNU nurses urge federal authorities to handle unsafe hospital staffing disaster

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New report on RN staffing explains a long time of dangerous hospital practices and recommends a number of legislative and regulatory options

“Understaffing shouldn’t be the results of the nursing scarcity, however the reason for it,” Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, RN, president of Nationwide Nurses United (NNU), instructed Congressional leaders this week.

Triunfo-Cortez and frontline RNs from throughout the nation defined the understaffing disaster at a Congressional briefing, which accompanied the launch of a new NNU report on the difficulty.

The RNs described first hand to members of Congress the numerous ways in which the hospital trade, in pursuit of earnings, has deliberately created the insupportable working situations below which many nurses are unwilling to observe and has led to present disaster ranges of unsafe staffing. The briefing was co-hosted by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, sponsor of H.R. 3165, the Nurse Staffing Requirements for Hospital Affected person Security and High quality Care Act.

“Proper now, there are not any federal mandates regulating the variety of sufferers {that a} registered nurse can look after at one time in U.S. hospitals. That is harmful – for nurses, for sufferers, for all Individuals. For this reason I launched the Nurse Staffing Requirements for Hospital Affected person Security and High quality Care Act (H.R. 3165), to require hospitals to develop annual protected staffing plans with the enter of direct care nurses,” mentioned Rep. Jan Schakowsky. “Even earlier than the pandemic, registered nurses have persistently been required to look after extra sufferers than is protected. Nurses have been pleading with hospitals to provide them the workers that they want. But hospitals say they can not discover sufficient nurses and can’t afford to pay everlasting nurses extra in wages. This complete report exhibits that’s incorrect. There isn’t a scarcity of registered nurses. There IS a scarcity of excellent, everlasting nursing jobs the place registered nurses are absolutely valued for his or her work. We have fun nurses. We name them heroes. If we actually worth their work and their sacrifices, we should give them the help that they’re asking for.”

Nurses from throughout the nation, from California to Washington, D.C., and Michigan to Florida, shared their tales. View the nurses’ testimony right here.

This manufactured staffing disaster is detailed in NNU’s new report, “Defending Our Entrance Line: Ending the Scarcity of Good Nursing Jobs and the Business-Created Brief Staffing Disaster.” The report explains the strategies the hospital trade has used for many years earlier than the pandemic which have pushed nurses away from the bedside:

  • adopting insurance policies of not supplying sufficient RN workers to soundly look after sufferers
  • chopping corners at work that endanger nurses’ well being and security, together with hospitals’ refusal to supply essential PPE to RNs throughout the pandemic till they had been pressured to take action
  • disrespecting nurse judgment and autonomy by fragmenting, deskilling, and changing elements of their occupation
  • resisting hiring RNs from affiliate diploma applications — an elitist observe that exacerbates the staffing disaster and undermines the nursing workforce’s racial and ethnic range

The report explains how these hospital trade practices performed out throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and induced irreparable hurt to registered nurses by creating unsafe workplaces that led to their psychological well being misery, ethical harm, and a whole bunch of RN deaths.

Lastly, the report proposes quite a few fast and long-term legislative and regulatory options that Congress and the manager department might take to retain and develop the nursing workforce, together with passing federal protected staffing ratios laws to make sure acceptable staffing in our hospitals and making assembly minimal protected staffing necessities a situation of getting Medicare reimbursements; defending RNs’ well being and security at work; strengthening union protections; increasing free, public neighborhood faculty nursing applications and beefing up monetary help for nursing applications that enhance workforce range — amongst different suggestions.

“These sufferers can go south right away; you want to watch them like hawks,” mentioned June Browne, RN, who works within the multi-system intensive care unit at Osceola Regional Medical Middle in Kissimmee, Fla. and defined that ICU nurses who ought to sometimes be assigned just one or a most of two sufferers at her hospital had been routinely assigned three and as much as 4 sufferers on one shift. “These sufferers can’t be left alone. However now I hear an alarm ringing in one other room, letting me know one thing is mistaken with one other affected person. What am I to do? Who do I assist? I’m being requested to make an unimaginable choice with somebody’s life hanging within the stability.”

The story is frighteningly comparable across the nation. Leah Rasch, RN, who works at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Mich., mentioned her neighborhood is coping with a large surge of Covid sufferers however that administration has supplied “horrendous” staffing ranges. “I merely can not do my job effectively once I’m accountable for caring for eight Covid sufferers at one time,” mentioned Rasch. “We’re simply attempting to maintain them respiratory and preserve them alive lengthy sufficient to cross them off to the nurse on the subsequent shift. Some of the heartbreaking issues is that when a affected person is passing away, I usually don’t have time to even sit with them as a result of I’m attempting to maintain another person alive. It’s heartbreaking to know that anybody is dying alone. I can’t let you know how brutal that’s and the way brutal it feels.”

All of the nurses inspired lawmakers to assist cross NNU-endorsed present pending federal protected staffing payments, S. 1567 and H.R. 3165, in addition to help the numerous suggestions outlined in NNU’s report.

“Nurses want the backing of a union to have the ability to converse up safely at work, and sufferers, regardless of the place they get sick within the nation, deserve protected, high quality affected person care that we consider, within the face of hospital trade greed, can solely be achieved by means of RN-to-patient minimal staffing ratios,” mentioned Triunfo-Cortez. “That’s why it’s so essential for Congress to cross the PRO Act, the protected staffing laws we’ve proposed, and all the remainder of the commonsense suggestions we lay out on this report.”

Nationwide Nurses United is the nation’s largest and fastest-growing union {and professional} affiliation of registered nurses, with greater than 175,000 members nationwide.

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