We have a staffing crisis, and staffing levels are still declining. Nurses across the state are being assigned an increasing number of patients as staffing levels continue to decline. Many nurses are now two to four patients over a safe nurse-to-patient ratio and as a direct result 300 hospital patients die each year.
The cost of the staffing crisis is immense for hospitals. The cost to replace a single burned out nurse was $82,000 in 2012 alone. On average, each hospital is estimated to lose $300,000 for each percentage point of nurse turnover per year.
The good news is that there is legislation to address this crisis. We, as frontline caregivers, have the political power through our union to pass it.
The Patient Safety Act
- The Patient Safety Act legislation would set minimum nurse-to-patient ratios in Pennsylvania hospitals dependent upon the acuity of the unit’s patient needs.
- Legislation requires that staffing ratios be met across shifts, ensuring continuity and quality of care for patients.
- This year, Senator Collett and Rep. Mehaffie will be re-introducing this important legislation in February. We want legislators to cosponsor these bills and demand that they get a full vote on the floor.
What can you do to help pass this lifesaving legislation?
- Look up your state legislators and give them a call.
- Share your story of how staffing shortages have affected you and your ability to provide patient care.
- Ask if they’ve signed on to support The Patient Safety Act.
- Tell your union organizer about your experience calling your legislator.
- Ask your coworkers to do the same.
We are the experts on the frontlines of care. That’s why, through our union, we’re making sure hospital workers have a voice wherever healthcare decisions are made.
We made gains together in 2020. In 2020, SEIU Nurses formed a nurse council that lobbied directly with Secretary Levine to tackle COVID response. Through our efforts we won:
- A PPE policy
- Universal testing in Nursing Homes
- Notification requirements for contact tracing
- A process for shutting down elective surgeries
Together, we’ll go further in 2021. The legislature needs to be consulting bedside caregivers as they make policy decisions about the future of healthcare. Some issues that we expect to see this session are:
- COVID response
- Nurse licensure legislation
- Provider immunity
- Funding for hospitals
Stay up to date on our work to build political power for frontline caregivers by texting CRISIS to 787-753.