Inspiring, empowering, and energizing. Those are some of the words MNA members used to describe Day on the Hill 2015.
About 150 RNs from throughout Minnesota stood up for their patients, their profession, and their communities at the February 9-10 event in St. Paul.
Members sat down with their legislators to share their experiences as bedside RNs to show why a Safe Patient Standard and workplace violence prevention legislation are needed. They told their personal stories of instances where patient safety was threatened because of understaffing; and times when they were subjected to workplace violence themselves.
They crowded into a room at the Minnesota Department of Health to deliver more than 2,000 ‘valentines’ – Concern for Safe Staffing Forms filed in 2014, documenting situations where patients were at risk due to low staffing levels.
Dozens of RNs lined up to share their stories at an emotional meeting with Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger.
Some teared up telling their stories and as they identified with other nurses’ concerns.
“We are bringing these valentines from nurses on day shift, night shift, holiday shift, weekends, holidays,” said MNA President Linda Hamilton. “Here’s proof that we need more nurses. We want to do what’s best for our patients.”
Nurses document unsafe staffing in their hospitals by filling out Concern for Safe Staffing Forms and sharing them with their supervisors and the Minnesota Nurses Association.
“The hospitals aren’t giving you the information you need, so we will,” said oncology nurse Theresa Peterson, RN at North Memorial Hospital. “When (cancer) patients need medications, it’s an hourly thing. So if you have five other patients, they don’t get seen.”
Commissioner Ehlinger promised that he and his staff would read the forms and use them to inform their policy discussions.
Other highlights of Day on the Hill:
- National Nurses United Public Policy Director Michael Lighty brought the national perspective in his remarks during the February 9 kickoff. He urged MNA members to use their “passionate commitment” for their patients when advocating for change at the state and national levels to “transform our country.”
- St. John’s Hospital nurse Amy Schmidt spoke publicly for the first time about the patient attack on nurses on her unit last November. She described how the attack unfolded and how it changed the lives of everyone involved. Schmidt said every hospital should have a plan to deal with crises. “I urge all nurses to get involved and stop thinking that workplace violence is part of our jobs. It is not.”
- Rep. Joe Atkins told members their voices do make a difference. “There’s not a legislator who doesn’t respect what you do. You have a case to make.”
He promised to fight for safe patient staffing and workplace violence prevention legislation.