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Washington state bill seeks to fix nurse understaffing

Nurses are describing bleak conditions because of understaffing in Washington state hospitals, and a bill introduced in Olympia aims to address it.
The so-called “Safe Staffing Standards” legislation would set minimum nurse-to-patient ratios for hospitals. Its primary sponsor is state Sen. June Robinson (D-Everett).
Dana Robison, a registered nurse in labor and delivery in Everett who has been a nurse in hospital settings for 17 years, said staffing issues were an issue before the pandemic, but she has never seen burnout as high, or morale as low, as they are now.
“Most of us that are still at the bedside have reached our breaking point already, but we’re staying because we care about our patients and our community, and we see that there’s nobody else,” Robison explained.
A similar measure was introduced in 2022 and passed the House but failed in the Senate. Hospitals in the state say it creates an unnecessary level of government oversight, and it will be hard to find enough nurses to fill the number of positions needed to stay in line with the bill’s requirements.
David Keepnews, executive director of the Washington State Nurses Association, said a lack of nurses means they struggle to provide the care patients need. He thinks the bill is needed to stop the hemorrhaging within the profession, and could even reverse it.
The state already requires staffing committees in hospitals to develop staffing plans, but Robison and supporters of the Safe Staffing Standards bill argued the committees do not have enough teeth to solve the issue.
“The most important thing that we can do is have some oversight that helps to ensure safe staffing levels,” Robison stressed. “Because without that, none of the other fixes matter.”
-- With additions from the Tribune

Other news in the Legislature

It would become a felony to assault any amateur sports official if a bill filed by new state Rep. Sam Low (R-Lake Stevens) becomes law under  House Bill 1096.
Today, it’s considered third-degree assault to assault peace officers, health care providers, court officials, firefighters, law enforcement, school bus drivers and transit operators.
In other news, a bill filed by Low would give vehicles carrying donated organs on a time-sensitive delivery mission the same right-of-way as other emergency vehicles such as ambulances.
The state legisture opened its session this week.
Freshman representatives include Low as well as Mary Fosse and Julio Cortes of Everett.
Fosse introduced a bill which would add the options of eligibility for unemployment in instances where the person affected has new family obligations and their employer cannot accomodate adjusting their work schedule to meet the accomodations. — Tribune staff



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