A bill has been introduced in the House and Senate to set minimum nurse staffing levels at hospitals, including federal facilities, to protect both patients and nurses.
The Nurse Staffing Standards for Hospital Patient Safety and Quality Care Act, introduced by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., would also provide whistleblower protections to protect nurses who advocate for the safety of their patients. AFGE had nurses from the Chillicothe VA in Ohio to attend the bill introduction event and discuss nursing issues with Senator Brown.
AFGE represents nurses at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, Bureau of Prisons and Indian Health Service. We have been sounding the alarm about the need to adequately staff hospitals to protect both patients and employees, including during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Multiple studies published by the National Institute of Health have shown minimum nurse-to- patient ratios improve staffing and patient outcomes,” said AFGE Local 1224 President Linda Ward-Smith, who is also a VA nurse. “The COVID era showed to all America the importance of creating an environment which is safe for nurses and patients to decrease burnout, mental stress, and undue burdens placed on staff due to nursing shortages. It is time we pass a sensible staffing bill to show we care for our caregivers who stand tireless at the bedside caring for our most precious loved ones.”