NJ Nurses Joined National Action Calling for Safe Nurse Staffing Levels

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Washington DC – Hundreds of nurses descended on Washington DC on Thursday to rally for one thing: Safe Nurse Staffing Levels. Labor unions in NJ co-sponsoring the national “Nurses Take DC” event on April 26th organized buses from Bergen to Cumberland Counties to send nearly 100 nurses from New Jersey. HPAE, NJ Nurses Union (NJNU/CWA), United Steel Workers and non-union nurses departed before the sun came up to make it to the Capitol Mall by the 10am kickoff.

“This isn’t the first nurses’ rally in DC for some healthcare professionals,” said Ann Twomey, President of HPAE, New Jersey’s largest union of nurses and health professionals, has spoken at rallies before, but this one had a special feel. “We’ve been fighting for safe staffing levels in our contracts and legislation for years in New Jersey. But with legislative wins in California and a Massachusetts ballot question this fall the time is ripe for our national leaders to push this legislation to the forefront.”

National legislation H.R. 2392/S.1063, sponsored by Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio has two New Jersey cosponsors, Rep. Albio Sires and Rep. Donald Payne, Jr to establish staffing levels for nurses in all units in every hospital.

We met with our New Jersey Representatives to educate them about the importance of safe staffing and how it can save lives and lower healthcare costs,” said Bernie Gerard, Vice President of HPAE. “We are fighting this battle for our patients at the national level as well as in Trenton. When it comes to patient safety a nurse will stop at nothing.”

“Our nurses in Livingston took to the streets to fight for better staffing levels. We need our legislators to step up and join the fight for patients, their constituents. It is time we had more legislative allies from New Jersey demanding hospitals bring more nurses on board to save lives and deliver safer healthcare”, said Maria Refinski, President of NJNU/CWA. Maria is a staff nurse at RWJ Barnabas Hospital in Livingston, NJ.

Twomey declared, “The time for our legislators to act was years ago. Lives would have been saved. The nursing profession wouldn’t have seen so many capable nurses drop out of the profession due to unsafe staffing, burnout and stress. We have to do the right thing for our patients and for the profession of nursing. New Jersey and our nation will see better health outcomes with safe staffing.”

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