National Nurses United

Registered Nurse March 2009

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NewsBriefs.3:March alt 2 3/16/09 6:30 PM Page 4 NewsBriefs Texas and Nevada RNs Rally for Ratios Nevada RNs (above) voice their need for safe staffing ratios. Texas RNs (left) spoke at the Capitol with bill sponsors in support of ratios. TEXAS | NEVADA H undreds of registered nurses in Texas and Nevada held spirited rallies at their respective state capitals the same week in March to push for safe staffing ratio bills in their 2009 legislatures. RNs want the same, minimum RN-to-patient staffing standards that California nurses have, the same rights to advocate for their patients, and the same protections when they report or refuse to take unsafe assignments. The Texas and Nevada Hospital Patient Protections Acts would do just that, and is part of a larger movement to expand similar safeguards across the nation. In Texas, there are two ratios bills: one in the Senate called SB 1000 sponsored by Sen. Mario Gallegos and one in the House called HB 1489 sponsored by Rep. Senfronia Thompson. In Nevada, RNs are working to amend an existing bill to include provisions of their patient protection act. "We need to change nursing in Texas," said Deborah Dietz, a psychiatric RN in Houston who's been in nursing for 27 years and attended the March 4 lobby and political 4 REGISTERED NURSE action day to show her support. "What the hospital tells us what we need to do for each patient with the time we have is impossible. We aren't able to talk to our patients and miss things. I want to go home feeling like I did a good job." Dietz said ratios will also help keep nurses at the bedside since many newer RNs tell her they can only tolerate to practice for a few years before pursuing higher degrees and becoming administrators. Michael Collins, a medical-surgical RN in Las Vegas for University Medical Center, says his hospital has similar problems and that he is tired of money overriding the health and W W W. C A L N U R S E S . O R G safety of his patients. "The average age of nurses on my unit is 49 years," said Collins, a 25-year RN who attended Nevada's March 5 rally in Carson City. "No one's willing to work under these circumstances. No matter the acuity of the patients, we always have the same number of staff. We really need to have an RN-to-patient ratio set by law so they can't make excuses." Registered nurses said winning ratio legislation in all 50 states is an important legacy they'd like to leave to future generations of nurses and a practical protection for themselves. "I will be a patient one day and I'd like to know the nurses can take adequate care of me," said Dietz. "It will be the greatest thing if this law passes and I had something to with it." —staff report MARCH 2009

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