A group of us got together on Tuesday to call attention to the patient care crisis across Northwestern Pennsylvania, in front of one of three billboards we crowdfunded to raise across Crawford and Erie counties this summer.
With the help of many of you, we raised $2,000 in just seven days to make this happen. That’s truly incredible, and it’s a wonderful example of what we can do when we pool our resources to make our advocacy louder than the industry lobbyists’ money.
These billboards send a clear message to the most important legislators in PA: the two Committee Chairs who will decide whether our safe patient limit bills move forward or not. Our billboards are going up in the overlap between the districts of Representative Kathy Rapp — Chair of the House Health Committee — and Senator Michele Brooks — Chair of the Senate Health & Human Services Committee. While both legislators have expressed some interest in holding committee hearings on our legislation, neither has yet committed to do so, despite the growing staffing crisis facing patients and nurses every day.
Nurses across the state routinely report patient assignments of two to three patients above recommended levels, and we know that each patient beyond safe levels significantly increases the risk of infections, medical errors, and patient death. Numerous studies show that safely staffed hospitals have lower mortality rates, shorter emergency room wait times, and can drastically lower the readmission rates of pediatric patients.
The toll of the staffing crisis isn’t just felt by patients. Our profession is being deeply impacted. Nursing is one of the most dangerous professions. Older nurses are overburdened by stress, while younger nurses are leaving the bedside completely or going back to get higher education.
We need safe patient limits now. This is not an unprecedented idea in Pennsylvania: When we drop our kids off at daycare, we can rest assured that the facility is legally required to adhere to limits on the number of kids a childcare worker can be assigned. Why should we accept less if our kids are in the hospital?
We would never have been able to raise enough money to put up these billboards or to send this powerful message without the support of dozens of nurses across the state who chipped in. Will you join them in helping to fund our movement?
If we each do what we can, our voices combined may be powerful enough to improve healthcare and nursing not only in the Northwest, but across the entire state.
Shelbie Stromyer, RN
Oil City, PA