This article originally appeared on the CCX Media website on April 26, 2023. You can find the original, including the news video clip here.
Minnesota union nurses returned to the state Capitol in St. Paul on Wednesday to voice support for legislation they say is on the verge of giving them what they want most: a seat at the table for discussing staffing levels.
“That’s why we’re here folks,” said Mary Turner, a nurse at North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale and president of the Minnesota Nurses Association.
Turner addressed dozens of nurses outside the Minnesota House chambers.
“That’s why we’ve always been here, and we’ll be here until it gets done.”
The House is expected to pass the Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act as part of a larger health bill that lawmakers say would guarantee nurses a seat in negotiations about staffing levels. Turner said it’s not about an exact ratio as much as it is about having that key voice in deciding the ratios.
“It gives us a percentage of nurses who can meet with management and other health care members and discuss staffing,” said Turner, whose union represents about 85 percent of the state’s nurses. “This kind of legislation will help nurses whether they’re in a union or not.”
Turner said the number of patients who nurses care for each shift often isn’t as critical to their concerns about staffing as it is just how sick those patients are and the care they require.
“On the nights you have five patients, they’re trying to give you six, seven,” she said. “But the acuity is higher. People used to come to the hospital for migraines. They don’t come to the hospital for migraines any more. You have to be very, very sick to come to the hospital. So that’s the problem. The acuity is way higher, and (hospital management is) trying to creep those numbers way up again.”
Lawmakers say there is enough bipartisan support to pass the bill this week after a nearly 15-year process.
“We really understand the connection between staffing and patient outcomes and patient care and having survived the pandemic, I think we really want to make sure we’re focusing on nurses, focusing on healthcare and making sure all patients are cared for,” said Rep. Sandra Feist, DFL – New Brighton.
Feist said the bill should pass this week and then go to a conference committee where any differences with the corresponding Senate bill, which also passed, can be worked out.