Late-breaking deal removes hospital nurse staffing regulations from legislation
Controversial hospital nursing staff regulations were dropped from legislation on Monday which will focus instead on preventing nurse violence and investigating the reasons why nurses burn out and leave the profession.
The result was an extraordinary compromise for a bill that steamrolled through the legislature, with support from leaders of the DFL and the Minnesota Nurses Association, until the Mayo Clinic raised objections.
The bill known as the Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act was so fundamentally changed after this influential opposition that its sponsors renamed it the Nurse and Patient Safety Act.
“This bill is dead,” said Mary Turner, MNA president and critical care nurse at North Memorial in Robbinsdale, in tears. “And I’m heartbroken. For nurses who choose to stay at the bedside, however, the wording of this agreement will help them feel safe in their jobs.”
Mayo had threatened to move a billion-dollar expansion to another state if nursing staffing committee requirements progressed. Lawmakers eventually agreed to a compromise — with influence from Gov. Tim Walz — that would exempt all Mayo hospitals in southeast Minnesota from the committee’s requirements.
Senator Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul said it sparked discontent over the weekend among other lawmakers who didn’t like a situational bill that spared Mayo but applied to all other hospitals in the state.
“That exclusion is gone,” she said. “It was offensive to all of us.”
The congressman and supportive lawmakers have been advocating for nurse staffing legislation since 2008 and the latest version dropped the most controversial idea of fixed statewide nurse-to-patient ratios in hospitals . California is one of the few states to use fixed ratios, but more than a dozen have already implemented hospital staffing committees.
Minnesota was reportedly one of the first to use binding arbitration to set staffing levels when committee members could not agree, and this loss of control drew strong opposition from hospital leaders. .
Turner said she hopes the legislation will protect nurses and reset expectations, as some nurses have come to expect assaults by visitors or patients as routine occupational hazards.
The legislation also expands loan forgiveness programs in an attempt to bolster staffing at hospitals, nursing homes and clinics.
startribune Gt Itly