As the nation honors Nurses Week, dozens of nurses across the state converged in Harrisburg to urge legislators to adopt the PA Nurses’ Prescription for Quality Care, which calls for expanded funding to improve staffing levels and decrease workplace violence. They were joined by Representatives DiGirolamo (Bucks County) and Representative Frankel (Allegheny County).
Not only would Medicaid expansion provide 700,000 Pennsylvanians access to healthcare coverage, it would also make up for reductions in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements and disproportionate share payments as negotiated in the Affordable Care Act that compensate hospitals for charity care. (PA provides about $500 million in charity care in a year.) By diverting funding to cover the uninsured, hospitals have less resources to invest in staff and equipment to promote better outcomes for patients and safer workplaces for patients and staff alike.
“Accepting dedicated healthcare funding is just commonsense and will allow us to reinvest in our patients with safe patient to staff ratios by decreasing staff turnover, infection rates, re- admissions and non-emergent ER visits, all of which saves money,” said Michelle Boyle, Registered Nurse from Allegheny General Hospital.
Short staffing and workplace violence are chronic issues faced by healthcare workers across Pennsylvania. Nurses regularly cite short staffing as their number one challenge and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics cites that nearly half of all non-fatal injuries from occupational assaults and violent acts occur in the healthcare sector. While the fatal incidents shooting at UPMC Western Psychatric Institute and Clinic last year claim headlines, nearly 2,000 non-fatal incidences of workplace violence occur.
That’s why dozens of nurses gathered at the capitol to urge our Governor and legislature to expand Medicaid, pass HB 923 (Representative Mundy, Luzerne County) and SB637 (Senator Senator Daylin Leach from Delaware and Montgomery County), legislation that would provide for safe RN-to-Patient ratios adjusted for acuity in PA hospitals and legislation to reduce workplace violence in healthcare facilities across Pennsylvania.