The “Nurse Staffing Standards for Hospital Patient Safety and Quality Care Act of 2017” was introduced by U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). The bill will help recruit and retain health professionals, minimize shortages, improve patient care and provide whistleblower protections so caregivers can securely advocate for their patients and themselves.
“For years, some hospital administrators said that staffing level reports were just ‘meaningless numbers,'” said Lisa D’Abrosca, RN, AFT Connecticut’s jurisdictional vice president for nurses and healthcare professionals. “As caregivers, we knew better. That’s why we never gave up fighting for safe staffing legislation here in Connecticut until we won. We need to be ‘all in’ now for the fight in Congress,” added D’Abrosca, a veteran nurse at L+M Hospital and president of our L&M Registered Nurses union.
for a photo of the governor signing Connecticut’s 2015 safe staffing bill.
Caregivers have for two decades championed the need for safe staffing levels in their hospitals and health facilities, citing substantial research that demonstrates positive impacts on patient outcomes. In the meantime, the absence of any concrete, enforceable and evidence-based minimal federal requirements has increased the risk for omissions and errors in care, adverse events, and even death.
“Our union is how we’ve won safety protections at our hospital,” said Janice Stauffer, RN, an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse at Danbury Hospital. “It’s how we’ve moved administrators to address staffing shortfalls and agree to rules that have literally saved lives. Working together, we’ve made real progress in our community and at the state level. But it’s long past time for Congress to act at the national level,” added Stauffer, who serves as president of our AFT Connecticut-affiliated Danbury Nurses Unit 47.
for recent press reporting on ongoing efforts to maintain safe staffing levels in Danbury and New Milford Hospitals.
Appropriate nurse-to-patient ratios have demonstrated significant benefits for communities, from reducing hospital mortality rates to improving quality and reducing costs of care. Research has further shown a positive impact on health facility staff by decreasing caregivers’ exposure to injury, illness or burnout. The federal legislation comes at a time when public and private institutions face ongoing threats to their resources due to Medicare, Medicaid and state-level budget cuts.
“We did not choose budgets cuts, we did not choose healthcare cuts, we did not choose hiring freezes,” said Allison Zimmer Lonczak, RN, a nurse in UConn Health’s emergency department. “We choose this profession to help others, and improve their quality of life. If we cannot do that, many more will leave and few will choose nursing,” added Zimmer Lonczak, a member of our University Health Professionals (UHP) union.
for Zimmer Lonczak’s recent op-ed on how “safe staffing for nurses will save lives.”
Whether hospitals, clinics or home care, healthcare doesn’t run without nurses and health professionals like Stauffer, D’Abrosca and Zimmer Lonczak. They give up restroom breaks, meals, personal time and sleep to ensure patients receive the best care possible. They also fight tirelessly away from the bedside for a system of care that is affordable, accessible and safe for their patients.
It’s in the fabric of who they are.
for a report on the federal legislation from the advocacy organization Daily Nurse.