CNA to Hold Town Hall Meetings on Nurse Ratio Proposal
The California Nurses Association is holding a series of town hall meetings to "rally nurses and gain public support" for a new law requiring minimum nurse-to-patient ratios beginning in 2002, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Nurses will discuss the law, which was sponsored by the CNA, in 21 sessions held around the state. The meetings will likely serve as a "key public relations and mobilizing tool" for the 32,000-member union as a "behind-the-scenes battle intensifies between nurses and hospitals over which staffing ratios the state should adopt," the Mercury News reports. CNA spokesperson Charles Idelson said, "We want to engage in a public discourse about current nursing care conditions and what is clearly a nursing-care crisis in California. We believe that the ratios -- presuming they are strong and effective -- will have a dramatic impact on patient safety and restoring an adequate number of nurses to hospitals."
With the state Department of Health Services expected to issue the proposed ratios in a few months, the debate between hospitals and nurses over the issue continues to intensify. Pushing for higher nurse-to-patient ratios, the CNA "contends" that hospital-proposed ratios are "watered-down" and would "compromise patient care and drive frustrated nurses away from hospitals in the midst of a protracted statewide shortage." But Jan Emerson, a spokesperson for hospital lobbying group California Healthcare Association, said that the hospitals' proposals are meant to be supplemented with additional staff based on "how sick patients are." Emerson said, "We're starting totally from scratch trying to figure out how to best do this. You cannot legislate in stone a specific number of nurses that's applicable at all times" (Feder, San Jose Mercury News, 1/6). For more information about the CNA town hall meetings, go to http://www.calnurse.org/cna/pdf/TownHall.pdf. Note: You will need Adobe Acrobat reader to view the schedule of meetings.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.