When RNs speak, policymakers listen

30 Jan


In response to recent attacks on nurses’ safety and their ability to provide safe, quality care for their patients, MNA members are speaking to legislators about safe patient staffing levels and workplace safety in 2015.

Nurses visited the Capitol January 28 to speak to legislators about the need for a Safe Patient Standard. They told lawmakers that patients are at risk when nurses have too many to care for at one time, and urged legislators to create a standard for nurse staffing that protects patient safety.

Nurses from North Memorial Medical Center “adopted” the day to talk specifically about the serious staffing issues facing the nurses and patients there. North Memorial management has unilaterally implemented new staffing grids hospital-wide, which add to the already large assignments of Registered Nurses as well as ancillary staff.

North Memorial RNs told legislators stories about how the new grids are limiting the care they’re able to provide patients and how concerned they are about their patients’ welfare.

“Are patients allowed water, turning, help to go to the bathroom only once a day?” asked one North Memorial RN. She said she’s gone through all the channels to alert management to the problem without success. “I can’t deliver a gold standard of care without support.”

Rep.  Joe Atkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights) told the nurses how influential their advocacy is on legislators. Atkins said he and his fellow state representatives are lobbied on hundreds of issues, which makes it difficult to keep up, but they start to take notice when they see numerous emails about the same issue. What really breaks through the noise, he said, is when constituents visit them in person and they can put a real name and face to a story. Atkins encouraged nurses to continue coming to the Capitol to advocate for their patients and profession as often as possible.

MNA’s February 9-10 Nurses Day on the Hill is a great opportunity to learn about MNA’s legislative priorities and how to advocate for them. We’ll give you training on how to navigate the political process and will make appointments for you to meet your legislators. For more information or to sign up, visit the Day on the Hill page on MNA’s website.

We will continue taking small groups of nurses to the Capitol on Wednesdays during the legislative session. The next opportunities are Feb. 4 and 18. We will meet at 10 a.m. at the MNA office in St. Paul for a briefing and then head to the Capitol to talk to our state representatives and senators.

To sign up or to see if your hospital can “adopt” a day to meet legislators from your region, please contact Geri Katz at 651-414-2855 or email Geri.Katz@mnnurses.org.

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