Last week we stepped up the pressure on the five Senators holding back safe patient limits legislation: Nearly 50 nurses visited the local offices of four of those Senators, and we have more planned in the coming weeks.
50% of the Senate and 50% of the Senate Health Committee support Senate Bill 450 for safe patient limits, but our bill cannot move forward unless it’s voted out of committee. That’s why, this month, we’re delivering 20,000 petition signatures for safe patient limits to all of these key decision-makers, and letting our neighbors and the press know what’s going on. We got their attention last week, but we need to keep going.
You can see more about the coverage from last week’s visits below:
- PBS39: “Nurses Rally for Patient Limits”
- ABC27: “Nurses call for action in patient care crisis”
- Explore Venango: “Nurses Deliver 20,000 Signatures for Safe Patient Limits to Senator Hutchinson, Call for Action on Patient Care Crisis”
- Altoona Mirror: “UPMC Altoona nurses rally for ‘safe staffing’”
Visit to Senator Scott Martin (R-13) in Lancaster: A group of us delivered the petition signatures to Senator Martin’s office, and nurses spoke out about the importance of safe patient limits and how the current nurse staffing crisis affects patient care and asked for Sen. Martin’s support.
In some of the offices, we were able to meet with the legislator or their staff. In others, the staff refused to meet with us. In one office, the staff snuck out the back when they saw us coming. In all of them: these Senators refused to heed the call for safe patient limits from nurses and caregivers across the state.
While we were able to meet with Senator Martin’s staff, they were not able to get a commitment to cosponsor the legislation or even hold a hearing in the Health Committee.
“Nurses have been trying to talk with him for years. At this point, we’re nearing the end of our patience. He’s on the Health Committee, so it’s his job to look into this and listen to frontline caregivers who are saying loud and clear that we have a crisis and this is the solution. It’s time for Senator Martin to take action, ” said Sean Byrne, a nurse from Lancaster. “He needs to choose which side he’s on. Is he going to stand with patients, nurses, half of the Senate, and half of the Senate Health Committee? Or will he be a part of five Senators who prevent this from moving forward or even getting a hearing?”
Visit to Senator Scott Hutchinson (R-21) in Oil City and Warren: While the nurses were able to meet with Senator Hutchinson’s staff in Warren, nurses in Oil City said the office staff locked the door, turned off the lights, and left out the back while the nurses were visibly standing in front to get a group photo and video before going in.
In Warren, while nurses had an engaged conversation with Sen. Hutchinson’s staff, it did not result in a commitment for Senator Hutchinson to cosponsor the legislation or hold a hearing in the Health Committee. “I appreciate that someone from Hutchinson’s staff met with us, but it’s time to do more than just talk. 20,000 nurses across the state are standing up to say our patients are at risk because of unsafe staffing. Our patients deserve action,” said Jennifer Chase, a nurse who attended the visit to her local office in Warren.
“It’s pretty concerning that they left when they knew we were outside,” said Shelbie, who went to her local office in Oil City. “We were here to bring 800 signatures from constituents and 20,000 nurses around the state calling on him to support safe patient limits, and they knew that. I don’t understand why they would run away from that. ”
Visit to Senator Bob Mensch (R-24): “We’re hopeful that Senator Mensch will listen to the thousands of bedside nurses like me speak out. He holds a seat on the Senate Health Committee, so he has a huge amount of power to either help move this forward or make sure it never gets a vote or hearing,” said Bill Allen, a nurse from Green Lane City.
While the nurses were able to meet with Senator Mensch, they were not able to get a commitment from Senator Mensch to cosponsor the legislation or even hold a hearing in the Health Committee. “We are hopeful leaving this meeting that if we continue to put pressure on our legislators we can move them to action. We as nurses will not stop until our legislators do the right thing and help us save the lives of our patients. ” said Fran Ferriguti from Montgomeryville.
Visit to Senator Judy Ward RN (R-30): We joined the nurses at UPMC Altoona who are SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania members to demand Sen. Ward stand with nurses for safe patient limits at UPMC Altoona in bargaining and for safe patient limits across PA through legislation. In response, Sen. Ward didn’t meet with any nurses but she did tell the local paper that she believes unsafe staffing is best addressed legislatively not by enforceable safe patient limits which we are calling for, but by another proposed law she favors, which SUGGESTS ratios, BUT leaves all the decisions to continue to be made by management, NOT nurses.
Over the past couple years, we’ve given them every chance to talk with us and learn more about the facts, and the facts are clear: safe patient limits would save lives. At this point, we are at the end of our patience.
Senators Mensch, Ward, Brooks, Hutchinson, and Martin need to decide whether they’re on the side of patients, nurses, and saving lives, or if they’re going to continue to stand in our way.
We need to step up the pressure and show more people, more nurses, and more of our community which side these Senators are on. We need your help to make that happen: