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Hundreds of Nurses, Caregivers Stand Up for Safer Staffing Legislation  

Healthcare professionals call for improved staffing in PA hospitals through passage of the Hospital Nursing Staff Report Card Act

Hundreds of nurses and other caregivers were joined by supporters and key elected officials on Tuesday, May 10, in the Capitol Rotunda where they called for legislation aimed at improving staffing levels, delivery of care, and transparency in hospital nurse staffing reporting in Pennsylvania’s hospitals.

Healthcare professionals called for legislators to pass Senate Bill 1081, the Hospital Nursing Staff Report Card Act. SB 1081 would create a public reporting system for nurse staffing in hospitals and other acute care facilities aimed at improving patient safety and giving patients and their families the information they need to make important choices when it comes to potentially life-saving medical care.

“Studies have shown time and time again that nurse staffing levels in our hospitals are directly linked to patient outcomes,” said Deborah Bonn, RN and Director of the Nurse Alliance of SEIU Pennsylvania. “It’s a serious public health issue, but Pennsylvania hospitals are currently under no federal or state requirement to reveal those staffing levels to officials or the public. It’s time our patients and their families have the information they need to make smart choices about their medical care.”

Healthcare professionals agree that adopting commonsense transparency guidelines would have a positive impact on both staffing levels and patient care because market forces will compel hospitals to compete to offer the best care. Staffing transparency has already been recommended by the non-partisan Joint State Government Commission in its 2015 report on bedside nursing,

“It is disappointing to see time and again that healthcare corporations will continue to turn a blind eye to staff shortages, disproportionate nurse-to-patient ratios, and underqualified and unprepared nurses and expect to maintain good patient outcomes,” said Leisa Kugler, an RN from Tunkhannock. “It’s time we shine a light on these practices so our patients and their families can make informed decisions when it comes to their healthcare choices.”

This day of action was coordinated by a coalition of nursing and healthcare organizations led by the Nurse Alliance of SEIU Pennsylvania, part of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, the state’s largest healthcare union.

They were joined by State Senator Wayne Fontana, main sponsor of SB1081, and State Senators Rob Teplitz and John Yudichak.

“SB 1081 is commonsense legislation that would require hospitals to be transparent, held accountable, and provide the best quality of care possible,” said State Senator Wayne Fontana (D-Brookline). “By reporting daily staffing levels, they will be compelled to improve staffing and patients will become more empowered to make informed health care choices. The responsibility to provide a safer environment for patients and staff alike is one that hospitals throughout this Commonwealth should embrace.”

“You wouldn’t buy a car without checking the mileage and you wouldn’t hire a contractor without checking their references,” said Bonn. “You shouldn’t have to choose a hospital without the information you need to make the right choice.”

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