Nurses lobby Ohio lawmakers to get a bill that mandates safe staffing ratios in hospitals
Nurses from around Ohio gathered at the Statehouse to advocate for legislation that they say will improve patient care. Their top priority is a bill that would mandate staffing ratios statewide.
Columbus nurse Greg Goodman said his hospital's contract with the union that represents him and other nurses spells out negotiated ratios that were implemented to make sure individual nurses don't have more patients than they can handle. But he said that's not the case statewide. And he said that's a problem.
“You have one hospital that has this staffing ratio, another hospital that has that staffing ratio. Different units have different staffing ratios and that’s unsafe,” Goodman said. “As a patient you can say, 'well, I want to go to that hospital because they are a union hospital and they have staffing ratios so I want to go to that hospital.’ It would be great if we had a state law that put us all on one level playing field.”
The nurses said inadequate staffing puts them in danger of being a victim of workplace violence. Elizabeth Thirtyacre, a Columbus area nurse, explained sensible staffing ratios are the key to improving patient care and reducing workplace mistakes or violence.
“If we can’t adequately care for patients, because that’s what we show up to do everyday, because our hands are tied, we don’t have adequate staffing, we are getting beaten up at work, etc., then it’s really not just nurses that are suffering but it’s the public health of Ohio," Thirtyacre said.
No bill has been introduced this year that would mandate such staffing levels, but the nurses said they are hoping they can change that. There have been bills in the past that mandate staffing numbers but they failed to pass.
The nurses said they are open to working with Ohio lawmakers to come up with legislation that is based on research and evidence that has been proven to be successful.