Maine nurses press on for ratios bill

Submitted by ADonahue on
Group of nurses standing outside in cold weather holding banner "Bedside Nurses Support Ratios"

By Chuleenan Svetvilas

National Nurse magazine - April | May | June 2024 Issue

Maine nurses recently moved safe staffing legislation the farthest a state bill has progressed in the past 20 years. Pine Tree State RNs applauded the Maine Senate for passing L.D. 1639, The Maine Quality Care Act on March 27 but unfortunately did not make it to a vote in the House before the legislative session ended on April 17. Nurses vow to keep fighting for ratios. 

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Stacy Brenner and strongly supported by Maine State Nurses Association (MSNA), which is part of National Nurses Organizing Committee, an affiliate of National Nurses United.

“This is the most significant legislation for patient safety that has ever been proposed or passed in our state,” said MSNA President Cokie Giles, RN. 

Sen. Brenner, a nurse and midwife with many years of nursing experience, stated in her floor speech before the vote, “Colleagues, I tell you with humility, that being in the Legislature feels like a relaxing hobby in comparison to working as a bedside nurse. The fear of near misses and possibly devastating errors from working over capacity builds a sense of moral injury, one shift at a time.”

“All of us nurses know other nurses who have left bedside care because of the conditions we and our patients face in hospitals today,” said Kelli Brennan, an RN at Maine Medical Center in Portland. “RN-to-patient ratios will bring nurses back to the bedside, keep the nurses we have, and protect the patients we are all committed to serve.”

In April, nurses publicly called on Gov. Janet Mills to support the bill and delivered a letter signed by more than 500 Maine nurses. 

Chuleenan Svetvilas is a communications specialist at National Nurses United.