On Wednesday evening, nurses across Pennsylvania officially launched our campaign to win safe staffing in hospitals and nursing homes this year. And it is more necessary than ever: As the most trusted profession on the frontlines of care, we have seen far too many patients and residents suffer because of chronic understaffing in our facilities. We need to make safe staffing standards the law in Pennsylvania.
But we need your help to do so immediately: this month, please join nurses across the state to spotlight the staffing crisis in our communities and to escalate pressure on the Department of Health to increase staffing in nursing homes now.
What’s the plan?
- The Patient Safety Act (House Bill 106 / Senate Bill 240): Our safe staffing bill for PA hospitals was recently reintroduced and we’ve already signed on new legislators! Our goal this year is to get to a majority of cosponsorship in both the PA House and Senate, move the bill out of Committee for a vote, and get it to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law. Last year, our bill ended up getting stuck in Committee, which is why, this month, we’re focusing early on key legislators who can move our bill forward.
- Enough is Enough (4.1 Campaign) for Nursing Homes: The Department of Health has the authority to improve staffing by updating the nursing home regulations, which they’ve agreed to do for several years now. But they’re dragging their feet. We’re demanding that they immediately raise the PPD hours from 2.7 up to 4.1 to improve resident care. This month, we want to start to escalate pressure on the Department of Health by engaging more nurses and the public to join in our demand.
- Continue reading for a full recap of the campaign launch on Wednesday, including more details about our plan and strategies, as well as a copy of the slides from the meeting.
What can I do to help immediately this month?
- Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper: COVID has brought unprecedented attention to the long-standing flaws and failures in our healthcare system, and the world is paying attention to nurses. The public is willing to stand with us, if we ask them to, but they must be brought into the conversation and educated about the importance of safe staffing in healthcare.
- That’s where you come in: Nurses are the most trusted voices, and we need nurses in every town and county across PA to lift up the crisis in your community and demand action. Legislators also pay close attention to the Letters Section of the local newspapers in their districts, so let’s tell them what they’re constituents care about and need: safe staffing and quality care for everyone.
- Use our toolkit here to draft your letter, and you can email your draft to us at Share@NursesOfPA.Org so we can support you by providing feedback and help you to submit it to your local paper.
- Escalate pressure on the Department of Health to improve staffing in nursing homes now: Thursday, March 18 is the one-year anniversary of the first COVID death in PA. We can’t forget, and neither should the people who have the power to improve care. Next week, we want to make sure the Department of Health voicemails are full and phones are ringing off the hook with nurses calling on them to release updated nursing home regulations based on what research, evidence, and essential frontline caregivers know is needed.
- Please make the call yourself (we’ll share the call-in number next week), and also send an email a tool we’ll share soon (we’ll update this post when it’s ready).
- To generate as many calls as possible, we’re also planning two nurse-to-nurse phone banks to call nurses and patch them through directly to the Department of Health in realtime:
This is just the beginning, and we’ll need to continue working together to advance safe staffing in Pennsylvania hospitals and nursing homes this year. Our patients and residents are counting on us.
We’ll be in touch soon,
Nurses of PA
Summary of Call:
On the call Wednesday evening, nurses…
- Connected together to discuss the moment we’re facing, how COVID has impacted staffing and those we care for, and what we can do about it
- Talked through our focus, priorities, and goals for the year
- Reviewed our legislative campaign to improve staffing in hospitals (The Patient Safety Act) and our regulatory campaign to improve staffing in nursing homes (Enough is Enough 4.1 Campaign)
- Shared important next steps we need all nurses to participate in and help to lead moving forward
- Letters to the Editor
- Key Legislative Outreach
- March 18th Day of Action for 4.1
Focus & Priorities for 2021:
- The safe staffing campaign for hospitals which is now called The Patient Safety Act (House Bill 106 / Senate Bill 240)
- We need to escalate pressure on the Administration and the Department of Health to increase staffing in the Nursing Home regulations from 2.7 up to 4.1 hours of resident care per day
- We will continue to work with the Department of Health via our Nurse Advisory Council
- Press the Department of Labor & Industry to enforce accountability and transparency from employers regarding COVID Regulations and Act 102 (Mandatory Overtime enforcement)
- And, we want to organize nurses at their workplaces and lift up nurses and healthcare workers as leaders guiding us out of the COVID crisis–so we never end up back here again!
Goals for 2021:
- Patient Safety Act:
- Get to majority sponsorship in both chambers
- Move the bill out of Committee for a vote in either chamber
- Get it to the Governor’s desk for him to sign!
- Enough is Enough (4.1) Campaign:
- Put public & strategic pressure on Department of Health to release 4.1 in regulations
- Prepare legislators to fund staffing in nursing homes
The Fight Ahead in Hospitals: The Patient Safety Act
- What’s in the bill?
- Safe nurse to patient ratios — these are evidence-based and must take acuity into account
- Transparency — hospitals must publicly post and report the planned staffing ratios on each unit and the actual current ratios on any given day
- Committees — bedside nurses will review each hospital’s staffing plan every year, provide feedback and recommendations, and those recommendations must be acted upon within a set timeframe
- Whistleblower protections & right to refuse an unsafe assignment — protections for nurses who report unsafe conditions and a process by which nurses can refuse an unsafe assignment (safe harbor)
- During the last legislative session, folks may remember, we did some amazing work and got more legislators signed on to our safe patient limits bill than ever before. We’ve always been mindful of making sure our bill is bi-partisan and that we enjoy support from both sides of the aisle. We believe that we may have had the votes necessary to pass the bill, but we never got the chance. Despite more support than many bills that get out of committee, the Chairs of the Healthcare Committees refused to move our bill out of Committee for a vote on the floor.
- Currently, we have a battle ahead as the Healthcare Committee Chairs remain the same. We also failed to elect some of the key safe staffing champions we wanted this past Nov of 2020. However, we know it is important to bear down and focus on key districts and to turn up the heat on legislators who continue to stand in the way of winning high quality care for our patients.
- Strategy for the year:
- Start with key Republican legislators
- Republicans are the majority party in PA and so they decide who the Chairs of the Committees are, and Republican leadership often decides which bills move out of Committee
- We want to start there, getting all the Republican legislators who previously co-sponsored or who agreed to support this bill signed on ASAP — this month!
- Major lobby efforts through Nurses Week & Beyond
- Then, once we have some key supporters in the majority party, we’ll need nurses to talk to all of our legislators — everybody — across the state to get to majority support in the House & Senate
- Focus efforts in key districts (Committee Chairs & leadership)
- In order to get there, we think this will require some strategic targeting and additional pressure in key districts — that includes the Healthcare Committee Chairs, Party Leaders, and legislators that we can move if we do our work right
- If we can’t move out of committee, set the stage for 2022
- If we can’t move the bill out of Committee, then we need to set our sights — this year — on the election next year: Who are the legislators who are really with us, and if they don’t stand with nurses now, what can we do to get them out of the way and elect new leaders who will support safe staffing across the state in 2022
The Fight Ahead in Nursing Homes: Enough is Enough (4.1) Campaign
- Difference between hospital approach vs nursing home approach
- Hospital side — has to go through legislature
- LTC — have to go through Department of Health to improve our staffing
- The current administration has agreed to improve staffing by updating the nursing home regulations. However, they haven’t yet.
- When our nurse advisory council met with the new Secretary of Health last month, she indicated that they were close to releasing the regulations, and may be willing to get the PPD up to 4.1. But we need to continue putting pressure on the administration to get this done as soon as possible.
- Escalate public pressure on Department of Health & Secretary Beam to release 4.1 in Regulations immediately
- Demand & defend 4.1 in public hearings & comments
- Prepare legislators to fund staffing in nursing homes
- We say, Enough is Enough! It is passed time to address the staffing crisis in nursing homes. We and our residents cannot afford to wait any longer! The Department of Health has the ability — right now! — to release the new regulations with 4.1, but they’re dragging their feet. We — nurses and our allies across the state — MUST create a public demand that is so big they can no longer ignore it — we have to create the political pressure now to force them to release the regs and raise the PPD to 4.1.
- This year, we’re going to need to pull out all the stops — do everything we can — because this is our window, this is our opportunity to get it done.
- Overview of work ahead:
- For the month of March, we really want to hit the ground running. There’s going to be a lot to do in April and May — around nurses week — so please keep your eyes on your email and look out for texts for all sorts of actions and advocacy coming up! Every way you can participate with us is valuable and significant! But immediately, for the rest of this month, we really want to focus all our work on three things:
- Lifting up the staffing crisis & nurse stories in communities across the state — we really feel as if, particularly in this moment, public pressure matters and the public is willing to stand with nurses now
- Engage legislators around the Patient Safety Act in a way that best sets us up to get to a majority in both chambers — so for this month, we’re really going to focus our efforts on key Republicans
- We must escalate pressure on the Department of Health to release 4.1 in the nursing home regulations immediately — This is it, we’re done waiting. Residents are suffering. Join us for our March 18 Day of Action
- Write a letter to the editor
- Support our lobbying efforts
- March 18 Day of Action