California Nurses Association Plans Rallies at Nearly 70 Hospitals and Medical Centers

According to a report from The Mercury News, the California Nurses Association will stage rallies at nearly 70 hospitals and medical centers Wednesday around the state to protest waivers allowing facilities to staff some units below state-mandated nurse/patient ratios as nurses are shifted to more critical patients.

The Association is afraid that the redistribution will place a heavier burden on nurses in noncritical departments amid increasingly high patient numbers.

In 2004, California became the only state to mandate minimum nurse/patient ratios. For most hospital departments, this law requires a minimum ratio of one nurse for every five patients (1:5), although it’s 1:2 for intensive care units.

In March, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order waiving nurse-patient ratios as part of his state of emergency to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The blanket waiver expired on June 30, but hospitals experiencing a COVID-19-related patient surge or staffing shortage can still request a waiver by submitting a form to the state.

On Tuesday, California’s Department of Public Health reported the state now has 519,427 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 7,554 new cases per day being reported over the past seven days.

Hospitals overwhelmingly support the emergency waivers, although it often results in nurses caring for more patients than would be allowed under normal rules.

2010 research project determined that nurse/patient ratios are the single most effective nursing reform plan protecting patients while keeping experienced registered nurses at the bedside.

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