Safety awareness highlighted during National Nurses Week
MARQUETTE — The Michigan Nurses Association is bringing awareness to safe limits on nurses’ assignments during National Nurses Week.
A legislative plan to set safe limits on the number of patients nurses can be assigned, curb excessive mandatory nurse overtime and require hospitals to disclose their registered nurse staffing has been introduced in both the state House and Senate.
According to the Michigan Nurses Association press release, the bills, also known as the Safe Patient Care Act, will keep patients safe in Michigan hospitals and build and retain a strong nursing workforce.
“Health care is in crisis because of years of hospital understaffing. Every year, the situation gets worse. We have reached the point now where almost 40 percent of current nurses say that they are planning to leave within the next year,” President of the Michigan Nurses Association and critical care nurse Jamie Brown said in a press release. “Hospital executives have failed to fix the problem for over a decade. The only way to keep patients safe is through meaningful action that will hold corporate executives accountable. We need patients to be put before profits.”
Last week, nurses and elected officials held a press conference for the legislation as part of the solution to the nurse retention and patient safety crises in Michigan hospitals.
“With new leadership in government, we hope that this will be the year that meaningful action is taken,” MNA board member and registered nurse Jessica Lannon said in the press release. “Every year for Nurses Week, RNs are told how important we are. While we appreciate the words, they are not enough. RNs are leaving the bedside because of worsening work conditions every day.”
Lannon said she believes the best way to honor nurses this month is to pass laws such as the Safe Patient Care Act to make working conditions better and bring former RNs back to direct care.
“Every day that we don’t act, hospitals become more dangerous for patients and nurses,” Lannon said.
Marquette resident Scott Balko works as a registered nurse in the operating room at the Upper Peninsula Health System-Marquette and is involved with MNA on its board of directors. He said there have been times in the past where he has had to work up to 22 hours straight.
“Once you get past hour 14 or 15, you’re pretty much done,” Balko said. “You’re tired and you’re not thinking right and if you make the wrong move, someone could get really hurt.”
Balko mentioned rules in place for semi truck drivers to have mandatory rest periods and how he believes the same rules should be applied to nurses.
“If they can put in the second bill something that basically says look when a nurse has worked 16 hours, they need to go home,” Balko said. “If you make that law, then hospitals can’t abuse that.”
Rep. Betsy Coffia, D-Traverse City, said in a press release that nurses cannot be asked to do more with less and that they have repeatedly shared the exhaustion and morale fatigue they are experiencing.
“Research has shown that requiring nurses to work too many hours is both unsafe for patients and increases the likelihood of RNs leaving the profession entirely,” Coffia said. “It’s time to end this outdated and dangerous practice.”
In a University of Michigan study published in a peer-reviewed journal, studies showed that:
≤ When mandatory overtime is frequently used, nurses are 72% more likely to have left the profession within two years.
≤ Nearly 40% of Michigan nurses say they plan to leave their job within the next year.
≤ 83% of practicing nurses say adequate staffing is their main concern.
≤ 84% of practicing nurses report emotional exhaustion.
“As a country, we have decided that for everyone’s safety there must be limits on the number of hours that pilots and truck drivers can be made to work in one day,” Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, said in a press release. “When patients’ lives are on the line, it’s just common sense that similar limitations be in place for RNs. I deeply value and respect the work that nurses do. It’s time that we listen to them and pass this law.”
Chief nursing officer at UPHS-Marquette Christine Stryker said in a statement the last few years have demonstrated the valuable contributions nurses make to the communities served in Marquette County and the U.P.
“Nurses are a vital part of our workforce, and there is no other role within a hospital that touches more patients than a nurse,” Stryker said. “Their voices and actions make a difference every day — from monitoring and caring for patients at the bedside to championing new protocols and procedures and ensuring that quality is always at the heart of everything they do.”
During National Nurses Week, Stryker said UPHS-Marquette was honored to recognize its nearly 600 nurses for the fundamental ways they are helping the hospital achieve its mission of making communities healthier.
“On behalf of our entire leadership team, I would like to share my gratitude for all of our nurses and offer our heartfelt thanks and appreciation for their ongoing dedication to our patients, each and every day,” Stryker said.
For more information on MNA, visit its website at minurses.org.
Dreyma Beronja can be reached at 906-228-2500 ext. 548. Their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.