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MNA: Rep. Cambensy, Sen. McBroom sponsor plan to support nurses, protect patients

The legislative plan, known as the Safe Patient Care Act, was introduced this week.
State Rep. Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette) and State Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Waucedah Township).
State Rep. Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette) and State Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Waucedah Township).(WLUC/Michigan Legislature)
Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 1:16 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - Two U.P. legislators are working to support nurses and protect patients with new bills in the Michigan Legislature.

The Michigan Nursing Association (MNA) says State Rep. Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette) and state Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Waucedah Township) are leading a bipartisan plan to support nurses and protect Michigan residents by setting safe limits on the number of patients a nurse can be assigned, curbing forced RN overtime, and requiring hospitals to disclose their nurse-to-patient ratios.

The legislative plan, known as the Safe Patient Care Act, was introduced this week.

”Nurses have been called heroes throughout the pandemic, yet we still don’t have the laws we need to help us provide the care that every patient needs and deserves,” said Stephanie DePetro, RN, president of the RN Staff Council at UPHS-Marquette and vice president of the Michigan Nurses Association. “Nurses need a reasonable workload so we have time to take care of our patients and keep them safe from harm in the hospital. I’m glad to see legislators in both parties making the Safe Patient Care Act a priority so that hospitals will have to stop taking advantage of nurses and put patients first.”

McBroom’s bill in the Senate package limits the number of patients a nurse can be assigned. Currently there is no law that covers this, which means nurses can be forced to take care of more patients than is safe. The MNA says years of research show a clear link between inadequate RN staffing and increased infections, re-admissions, and even deaths among hospital patients.

Nurses across the U.P. have told me they simply want to provide the best care possible to every patient, but sometimes they have too many people to take care of to do that,” McBroom said.  “We need laws that hold hospitals accountable so that all of us, no matter where we live, can get the nursing care we need. Supporting nurses and protecting public safety aren’t partisan issues – that’s why Republicans and Democrats are uniting to push for the Safe Patient Care Act.”

Cambensy’s bill in the House package curbs the use of mandatory overtime. Although there are limits on working hours for professions such as truck drivers and air traffic controllers, there is no law limiting the number of hours a nurse can be made to work. Too often, hospitals take advantage of this and force nurses to work beyond the point of exhaustion, the MNA says. 

“My mother was a nurse and I heard from her many times about the rampant use of mandatory overtime and the extreme workloads put on nurses,” Cambensy said. “In the U.P. and across the state, we are losing too many nurses who just cannot keep working unreasonably long shifts, often without enough rest in between. The pandemic has only made the problem worse. Excessive overtime is bad for nurses and it’s dangerous for patients. Putting limits on forced overtime for nurses is the right thing to do for everyone.”

The bills, which together have dozens of co-sponsors, now await a committee hearing.

The Michigan Nurses Association is the largest union and professional association for registered nurses in Michigan.

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