Hospital Nursing Staff Levels Debated at Capitol
[MMA News Now, March 7, 2013] A bill pitting the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) against the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) over nurse-patient ratios is making its way through the state Capitol.
In mid-February, Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights) introduced HF 588, which calls for providing an adequate number of qualified registered nurses on duty to provide the “standard of care that is necessary for the well-being of patients, consistent with nationally accepted evidence-based standards established by professional nursing specialty organizations.”
If there are no national, evidence-based standards for specific care units Atkins’ bill recommends that the state health commissioner consult with the MNA, the MHA, the Minnesota Licensed Practical Nurse Association and the MMA to develop standards. The bill also says no hospital employees shall be laid off as a result of implementing the bill.
The bill has gone through two committees and is headed to the Health and Human Services Policy Committee next. Before it passed out of the House Government Operations Committee, it was amended to exempt all 79 “critical access hospitals,” which are in rural areas of the state. This leaves 65 licensed hospitals that will be affected by the legislation.
A Senate companion bill from Sen. Jeff Hayden (DFL-Minneapolis) and has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.
The nurse-patient ratio was a major issue during the one-day nursing strike in 2010.