Press Release

Maine nurses call on Gov. Mills to support nurse-to-patient ratios

Maine nurses speaker at the presser with signs "Bedside nurses support ratios"

Today, nurses publicly called on Gov. Janet Mills to support LD 1639, a bill that would create mandated nurse-to-patient ratios based on patients’ needs in Maine’s acute-care hospitals, announced Maine State Nurses Association (MSNA). Gov. Mills has not yet taken a position on the bill. Nurses say the governor’s support is critical to pass the bill, now pending in the House.

At the event, nurses revealed a letter in support of LD 1639 sent to Gov. Mills today, and signed by more than 500 Maine nurses, pointing out that "Understaffing is not a new issue. Hospitals intentionally understaff to maximize profits and excess revenue. ... The current staffing crisis was foreseeable and preventable. We can fix it if we act now."

The letter also asked Gov. Mills to:

  1. “Meet with nurses, face-to-face, hear our stories, and truly understand the moral distress and injury that we face every day, in every hospital across our state.”
  2. “Look carefully at the powerful evidence that has been compiled over decades to show the efficacy and the necessity of enforceable nurse-to-patient ratios." And,
  3. “Stand in support of nurses, patients, and The Maine Quality Care Act and make Maine the next state to take real steps to address our state and national nurse staffing crises."

The Maine Quality Care Act (LD 1639), sponsored by State Sen. Stacy Brenner (D-Scarborough), passed the Maine Senate with a bipartisan 22-13 vote on March 27. In her floor speech introducing the bill, Sen. Brenner stated, “The bill in front of you today accomplishes two primary goals: increasing patient safety and encouraging nurse retention. Not all of us are going to practice as nurses but at some point in life, we are all either going to be a patient or going to have a loved one as a patient.”

Janel Crowley, chief nurse representative and neonatal ICU nurse at Maine Medical Center said, “All of us know of nursing colleagues who have left the bedside because of poor working conditions. The good news is we also know nurses who would come back to the bedside if conditions improved.”

Another Maine Med RN, Anthony Abdallah, who works in the cardiac intensive care unit, said, “We hold vulnerable people’s lives in our hands. It makes sense that reasonable ratios will improve patient outcomes and protect nurses. We are not asking for the moon. We are only asking for what decades of research backs up: Safe staffing saves lives.”

The hospital industry has vehemently opposed the Maine Quality Care Act, citing what it calls a “nursing shortage.” But MSNA President Cokie Giles, RN said, “There is no nursing shortage in our state or our country. There is only a shortage of nurses who are willing to work in the unsafe conditions they’re being given. The Maine Quality Care Act will bring nurses back to the bedside, which is what our state and nation need right now.”

Maine State Nurses Association is part of National Nurses Organizing Committee, representing 4,000 nurses and other caregivers from Portland to Fort Kent. NNOC is an affiliate of National Nurses United, the largest and fastest-growing labor union of registered nurses in the United States with nearly 225,000 members nationwide.