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Beyond Insurance: Ensuring Quality Care - 1,000 Nurses to Gather in DC

Press Release Press Release, 5/10/10

Contact Information | Media Center

For Immediate Release
May 10, 2010

1,000 Nurses to Gather in DC for Nurses Week Tuesday-Wednesday, May 11-12, Urge Next Step in Health Reform

Up to 1,000 registered nurses from Maine to California will gather in Washington, DC for National Nurses Week this Tuesday and Wednesday, May 11 and 12 to press the case for moving beyond insurance reform to improving the quality of care in U.S. hospitals and other healthcare settings.

The two day event, hosted by the nation's largest nurses' union and professional association, National Nurses United, will feature a march rally a of RNs who will press for landmark patient safety legislation now in Congress, including a bill that would establish national standards based on a California law that a major new academic study documents has dramatically reduced hospital patient deaths.

What:           
1,000 RNs to Rally in Washington for Safer Patient Care

Schedule & Conference:     

Tuesday, May 11
9 a.m. – 12 noon 
Washington Hilton, International Ballroom, 1919 Connecticut Ave.
Guest Speakers:
U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

Wednesday, May 12
Conference:  8 a.m. –  Washington Hilton
March:  about 10 a.m. beginning at Union Station
Rally:  begins after march, about 11 a.m. – Upper Senate Park
Legislative Visits: 1 p.m., Capitol

Legislators scheduled to speak on Wednesday at the rally and conference include U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (Ca), Al Franken (Mn), and Bernie Sanders (Vt), and U.S. Representatives Judy Chu (Ca), Donna Edwards (Md), Keith Ellison (Mn), Al Green (Tx), Raul Grijalva (Az), Dennis Kucinich (Oh), Barbara Lee (Ca), Jan Schakowsky (Il), Chellie Pingree (Md),  Anthony Weiner (NY), and Lynn Woolsey (Ca).

The event coincides with National Nurses Week which centers around the May 12 anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, often considered the founder of modern nursing.

"Improving the quality of care is a central component of the unfinished business of healthcare reform," said Massachusetts RN and NNU Co-president Karen Higgins. "Fortunately nurses have the solution – common sense, comprehensive legislative repairs for our healthcare system that will protect patients."

Among the bills NNU is promoting are S 1031/HR 2273, The National Nursing Shortage Reform and Patient Advocacy Act and S 1788/HR 2381, the Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act.

S 1031/HR 2273 would, among other components, establish minimum ratios of nurses to patients for all U.S. hospitals, modeled after a successful California law which, according to a University of Pennsylvania study issued last month, could have cut post-surgical patient deaths by 14 percent in New Jersey and 11 percent in Pennsylvania, two comparable states the researchers compared to California.

The Penn study, from noted researcher Linda Aiken, RN, PhD, documents "what California nurses have seen every day at the bedside since passage of the law - safer care conditions, an enhanced quality of life for patients, and, as an added bonus, reduced burnout for nurses which mitigates the nursing shortage," said California RN and NNU Co-president Deborah Burger.

S 1788/HR 2381 would also promote nurse retention and reduce patient accidents and injuries by establishing safe patient lifting and handling policies. It is based on the successful practice employed in many U.S. hospitals, including the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"Keeping nurses on the front line is critical to improving patient outcomes and upgrading the overall quality of our healthcare system," said Minnesota RN and NNU Co-president Jean Ross.

NNU is also seeking passage of HR 949/S 362 to restore equal collective bargaining rights for Veterans Affairs nurses.

National Nurses United is the largest union and professional association of RNs in U.S. history with 155,000 members in all U.S. states. It was formed by the December, 2009 unification of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, Massachusetts Nurses Association, and United American Nurses.  

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