Press Release

Religious Leaders Announce Support for DC

Patient Protection Act, Standing with Nurses, Patients

WASHINGTON, DC – Forty-three religious leaders of Washington, DC’s many faith groups announced their support today of the Patient Protection Act of 2013 that would set specific limits on the number of patients for which registered nurses can safely provide care.

The Act was introduced in February in the Council of the District of Columbia by Chairman Phil Mendelson and Council Members Yvette Alexander, Jack Evans, David Grosso, Anita Bonds, Jim Graham, Kenyan McDuffie, Marion Barry, Vincent Orange and Tommy Wells.

“We have a special place in our hearts for those who heal the sick and comfort the afflicted, as they are doing the Lord’s work here on earth,” the statement reads. “Unfortunately, DC’s hospitals are falling short on the quality of the care they provide and on patient satisfaction, so government must step forward to ensure that the public’s health is a priority and there are a sufficient number of skilled, registered nurses taking care of the sick at the bedside.

“In our pastoral duties,” the statement continues, “we often spend considerable time in our city’s hospitals and we can attest that hospital patients are often sicker than in years past and in need of nursing care more than ever. Mandating minimum nurse-to-patient ratios in the hospitals will help ensure that patients get the safe care that they deserve. It will also help minimize the considerable and costly turnover in the hospitals as nurses contend regularly with burnout, mandatory overtime and settings that don’t allow them to provide optimal care.”

The signatories are clergy from local congregations from an array of faith groups, including Baptist, United Church of Christ, United Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopal, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and Unitarian.

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Rev. Graylan Hagler

“Clergy spend a significant amount of time in our city’s hospitals caring for our congregants,” said Rev. Graylan Hagler, Senior Minister of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ. “We see the crisis of understaffing on a regular basis and the negative impact it has on patient care. That’s why so many faith leaders have come together to call for passage of the Patient Protection Act.”

“Nurses regularly see clergy members in our hospitals, which is a tremendous source of comfort to our patients,” said Mindy Blandon, RN, who works in the post-surgical unit at Washington Hospital Center. “Just as RNs understand our patient advocacy must extend beyond the bedside to the halls of the Wilson Building, so do these religious leaders, and RNs across the city are grateful for their support for this vital legislation that will do so much to improve patient care.”

Time and again insufficient nurse staffing has been found to result in inadequate patient care – putting patients at risk for an array of adverse health outcomes.

“DC’s nurses work hard every day to provide excellent care and support to their patients, but current inadequate staffing conditions in DC hospitals undermine their ability to deliver the high-quality care they strive to provide,” said Sandra Falwell RN, who works in the neo-natal intensive care unit at Children’s National Medical Center and is a vice president of National Nurses United.

Modeled after a 1999 law which has been successfully implemented in California, the Patient Protection Act of 2013 addresses this problem by establishing mandatory minimum nurse-to-patient ratios by hospital unit, create whistleblower protection for RNs and other healthcare workers who expose unsafe conditions, and ban mandatory overtime for RNs, a dangerous practice that can lead to medical errors.



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