Cambensy, McBroom lead bipartisan plan for nurse support

State Rep. Sara Cambensy, D-Marquette
State Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Waucedah Township

LANSING — State Rep. Sara Cambensy, D-Marquette, and state Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, are leading a bipartisan plan to support nurses and protect Michigan residents by “setting safe limits on the number of patients a nurse can be assigned, curbing forced (registered nurse) overtime and requiring hospitals to disclose their nurse-to-patient ratios,” according to a press release from the Michigan Nurses Association.

The legislative plan, known as the Safe Patient Care Act, was introduced earlier this month.

“Nurses have been called heroes throughout the pandemic, yet we still don’t have the laws we need to help us provide the care that every patient needs and deserves,” said Stephanie DePetro, RN, president of the RN Staff Council at UP Health System-Marquette and vice president of the Michigan Nurses Association, in the release. “Nurses need a reasonable workload so we have time to take care of our patients and keep them safe from harm in the hospital. I’m glad to see legislators in both parties making the Safe Patient Care Act a priority so that hospitals will have to stop taking advantage of nurses and put patients first.”

McBroom’s bill in the Senate package would limit the number of patients a nurse can be assigned.

“Currently there is no law that covers this, which means nurses can be forced to take care of more patients than is safe,” officials said in the release. “Years of scientific research show a clear link between inadequate RN staffing and increased infections, re-admissions, and even deaths among hospital patients.”

In the release, McBroom said: ”Nurses across the (Upper Peninsula) have told me they simply want to provide the best care possible to every patient, but sometimes they have too many people to take care of to do that.

“We need laws that hold hospitals accountable so that all of us, no matter where we live, can get the nursing care we need. Supporting nurses and protecting public safety aren’t partisan issues — that’s why Republicans and Democrats are uniting to push for the Safe Patient Care Act.”

Cambensy’s bill in the House package would curb the use of mandatory overtime.

“Although there are limits on working hours for professions such as truck drivers and air traffic controllers, there is no law limiting the number of hours a nurse can be made to work,” officials said in the release. “Too often, hospitals take advantage of this and force nurses to work beyond the point of exhaustion. “

Cambensy said in the release: “My mother was a nurse and I heard from her many times about the rampant use of mandatory overtime and the extreme workloads put on nurses.

“In the U.P. and across the state, we are losing too many nurses who just cannot keep working unreasonably long shifts, often without enough rest in between. The pandemic has only made the problem worse. Excessive overtime is bad for nurses and it’s dangerous for patients. Putting limits on forced overtime for nurses is the right thing to do for everyone.”

The bills, which together have dozens of co-sponsors, now await a committee hearing, officials said.


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