June 2, 2004
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) applauds nurses nationwide, today, on National Nurse Day, and every day, for their commitment and dedication to their patients and the nursing profession.
“The U.S. health care crisis is bringing mounting pressure on health care providers to do more and make do with less,” said UFCW International Vice President and Director of the union’s Health Care and Professional Division Greg Hamblet. “Decreasing staffing levels exponentially increases the burnout rate for nurses and puts quality patient care at risk. We need federal legislation, like Rep. Schakowsky’s, that sets mandatory nurse-to-patient staffing standards to protect patients.”
Schakowsky (D-IL) is introducing the Nurse Staffing for Patient Safety and Quality Care Act of 2004, today. The measure establishes minimum staffing levels for different hospital units. Once minimum levels are met, the Act will require hospitals to develop staffing plans, in consultation with staff, to meet patient needs in the hospital.
A recent poll conducted by the National Consumers League and the AFL-CIO found:
• Nearly half or 45 percent of those who have had direct hospital experience in the past two years believe that their safety or that of a family member was compromised by inadequate nurse staffing levels.
• More than a third report not receiving important elements of care in a timely fashion.
• More than 75 percent support legislative action to improve nurse-to-patient staffing standards.
Schakowsky’s bill creates a framework for providing patients with the consistent quality care they deserve by establishing minimum direct care registered nurse-to-staff ratios. “Too many hospitals are resistant to establishing and enforcing safe staffing levels,”” said Hamblet. “Federal legislation on this critical issue is long overdue. We’re losing too many good nurses and putting patients at risk because of inadequate staffing levels. The UFCW is working with numerous unions on the nurse campaign to support the Schakowsky legislation, and ensure that nurses have a strong voice in establishing working conditions that allow them to provide the quality care their patients require.”