Hospital Association Advertisement on Delay of Nurse Staffing Rule Criticized by Nurses
A 30-second television advertisement sponsored by the California Healthcare Association that "commends" Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) for delaying the implementation of revised nurse-to-patient staffing ratios began airing this week in Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento and the Bay Area, the Los Angeles Times reports (Nicholas, Los Angeles Times, 12/7).
Schwarzenegger in November delayed until January 2008 the implementation of a law passed under former Gov. Gray Davis (D), which was scheduled to take effect in January 2005, that requires that nurses be responsible for the care of no more than five patients at one time. The current rule requires that nurses care for no more than six patients at one time (California Healthline, 12/2).
The ad features a registered nurse thanking Schwarzenegger "on behalf of nurses, doctors and other caregivers who treat patients every day" for delaying the change. The ad also shows Mark Bell, director of emergency services for Encino-Tarzana Regional Medical Center, saying that the "rigid staffing regulations" that Schwarzenegger delayed would have endangered medical care. The ad is scheduled to air for about two weeks.
Some nurses who are "far from grateful to the governor" are "mounting an aggressive and personal campaign" against Schwarzenegger's decision, the Times reports. Nurses on Tuesday plan to protest during Schwarzenegger's speech to a Long Beach women's conference hosted first lady Maria Shriver.
In addition, about 2,500 nurses last week protested Schwarzenegger's action at the state Capitol in "one of the largest demonstrations against Schwarzenegger since his election," the Times reports.
California Nurses Association Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro called the ad "deceptive," saying, "They're running these ads attempting to act like the registered nurse speaks for the profession, when there's not a nurse in the state of California that supports the governor's actions on this."
Treasurer Phil Angelides (D) called the ad campaign "disingenuous." He added, "The fact is that [Schwarzenegger's] policies will in fact put patients at risk, and that's why nurses are in an uproar about them."
CHA spokesperson Jan Emerson said the ad is intended to be "educational." She added, "The labor unions have been fear-mongering. They've been telling the public that these changes are going to jeopardize patient care, and that's absolutely a fallacy. All the governor did was continue the existing nurse-patient ratios."
Service Employees International Union Local 121RN, a union representing registered nurses in Southern California, posted a message on its Web site alleging that Bell changed his position on the ratios after signing a petition opposing Schwarzenegger's decision.
Bell on Monday said he remains opposed to stricter staffing ratios and was not aware of the petition's contents when he signed it. He said he signed the paper because he wanted to show support for the nurses. Bell added, "As much as I support the nurses in their fight, I don't agree with the rigid nurse staffing ratios. I have not recanted anything" (Los Angeles Times, 12/7).