Press Release

California nurses hold press conference to warn new rule to let hospitals violate safe staffing standards will lead to more death and suffering of both patients and health care workers

Nurses holds signs for safe staffing

Watch the full press conference here

The California Nurses Association will hold a virtual press conference Wednesday to warn that allowing hospitals blanket permission to violate California’s RN-to-patient safe staffing law under the cover of the Covid-19 surge will inevitably lead to more patient, nurse, and other health care worker infections and deaths. At a time when nurses are already overwhelmed and at their breaking points, and Covid patients need much more intensive care than typical patients, overloading nurses with patient assignments will put countless lives at risk.

The California Hospital Association and its members, who have long opposed the state’s ratios law, are exploiting the pandemic to undermine California’s landmark safe staffing standards -- which require minimum RN staffing levels for various hospital units. The state on Dec. 11 announced it will allow hospitals to submit “expedited waivers” that will let them dramatically increase nurses’ workloads.

CNA will host a virtual press conference on Wednesday, Dec. 16, at 11 a.m. PT to hear directly from registered nurses across the state about how these blanket waivers of safe staffing standards hurt their ability to give optimal patient care and will lead to more errors, infections, and poor outcomes for patients.

What: California nurses explain why letting hospitals violate safe staffing standards during Covid will lead to more death and suffering.
When: 11 a.m. PT on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020
Where: Virtual - Watch the press conference here

Hospitals largely manufactured any current staffing problems through their own profit-driven bad behavior, such as laying off nurses, failing to fill regular vacancies, canceling traveling nurse contracts, canceling nurses who normally pick up shifts, and more.

“Heavier patient assignments sharply cut the time nurses can provide individualized patient care, properly monitor a patient’s condition, and increase the likelihood of mistakes, as studies have documented for years,” said  Zenei Cortez, RN and a president of California Nurses Association and National Nurses United. “In a pandemic, that’s an open invitation to increase the risk of spreading the virus to other patients and other staff.”

More than 59,000 California health care workers have been infected with Covid-19, and 228 have already died, as of Dec. 13, according to the California Department of Public Health. “Slashing safety standards will only increase the suffering and the death count,” Cortez warned.

California’s multi-billion hospital industry fought for years to block the state’s landmark safe staffing law, and then tried to overturn it, even though studies have shown the California law has resulted in up to 14 percent fewer patient deaths than in comparable hospitals, assured nurses more time to spend with patients, and kept nurses at the bedside far longer.

Since February, noted CNA/NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN, “nurses have been working under enormous strain, putting their lives and safety in jeopardy, without enough personal protection equipment, and without sufficient hospital engineering controls to reduce the spread of infection that have turned hospitals into Covid-19 hot zones.”

“And now, the hospital executives want to double down at a time when nurses have no more to give. We simply can’t afford to lose more nurses and more patients,” Castillo said.

Nurses who work at hospitals throughout California are planning various types of actions to fight back against this decision. Email for your media outlet to be included in our distribution list if it isn’t already.