FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 02, 2003
Diane Witiak
John Irvine
(202) 639-6419

AFGE Nurses Take Case To Congress

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—AFGE nurses from the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) will join more than 500 nurses, legislators and consumer advocates on the west front of the Capitol Building on Tuesday, May 6, at 1:45 p.m. to promote the need for safe staffing standards.

The event, sponsored by AFGE and other AFL-CIO affiliated unions, will coincide with Nurse Week, May 6–12. During the week, over 500,000 nurses will be planning meetings, rallies and lobbying visits to support safe staffing in cities and towns around the country.

J. David Cox, an AFGE member and a Registered Nurse (RN) at the DVA Medical Center in Salisbury, N.C. for the past 17 years, is concerned that patient care is suffering in many private, non-profit, for profit, and public hospitals across the nation because nurses are being forced to care for too many patients. “For example, at the DVA facility in Clarksburg, W.V., there is one RN for every 8 patients.”

Recent studies have shown that low nurse staffing levels in hospitals lead to thousands of preventable deaths and injuries. A recent report in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that when a hospital decreases a registered nurse’s patient load from eight patients to four, the risk that a surgical patient will die within 30 days is lowered by nearly one-third.

AFGE, which represents more than 150,000 DVA employees, has been urging Congress to address the harmful effects that unsafe staffing has on patient care in DVA Medical Centers and on staff by getting to the root of the problem—inadequate nurse-to-patient ratios.

“We went into the profession because we wanted to help people who are too sick and too frail to take care of themselves,” says Cox. “But we are being asked to risk patient safety by taking care of too many patients.”

AFGE, representing 600,000 federal and D.C. workers, is the largest federal employees union in the U.S. For more on AFGE, visit www.afge.org

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