FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bill to address nurse staffing, retention and patient care advances in health omnibus bills
(St. Paul) – April 26, 2023 – Nurses with the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) and chief legislative authors today celebrated passage of the bipartisan Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act in both chambers of the Minnesota Legislature. The bill passed last week as part of the Senate Health and Human Services omnibus bill (SF 2995), and today in the House Health omnibus bill (HF 2930). Today’s historic vote marks the first time legislation to address safe staffing in hospitals has passed both bodies in the Minnesota Legislature after more than a decade of attempts to solve the crisis of nurse short-staffing, retention, and patient care in Minnesota hospitals.
“This bill is about taking care of Minnesota patients,” said Mary C. Turner, RN, MNA President. “Someday, all of us and our loved ones will need care in a hospital. When that day comes, people need to know there are enough skilled nurses at the bedside to provide the safe, high-quality care all patients deserve. Giving nurses a seat at the table and a voice in the process will help improve staffing levels, bring nurses back to the bedside, and protect patient care throughout the state. Thank you to the bipartisan legislators in the House and Senate for moving this critical bill forward.”
Just this week, new data shows that there are more than 130,000 Registered Nurses in Minnesota, the highest ever in state history and an increase of 8,000 since last year, showing that there is no shortage of nurses in Minnesota. But nurses are leaving the bedside due to unsafe and unsustainable conditions in our hospitals. Last year alone, more than 2,400 MNA nurses left bedside hospital jobs in Minnesota, citing unsafe staffing as the number one issue driving nurses away. But more than 80 percent of nurses also indicated a willingness to return to the bedside if conditions improve, meaning more than 2,000 nurses are ready to come back – if the Minnesota Legislature takes action this year.
“Our hospitals and nurses have identified the persistent issues of short-staffing, safety, and retention,” said Senator Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul), chief author of the Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act in the Senate. “We have more than 130,000 registered nurses in Minnesota, but unsafe conditions and unreasonable expectations are keeping many of them from staffing our hospitals. The vast majority of caregivers who pursue other work say burnout, under-staffing, and moral injury were key reasons why they left nursing. This legislation is a bipartisan compromise arrived at after more than a decade of negotiation. Giving nurses a powerful voice at the table will result in safer hospitals and better patient care for everyone across the state.”
The bipartisan Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act is a comprehensive approach to nurse staffing and retention that would establish committees of direct care workers and management at Minnesota hospitals to discuss what works best for staffing for their patients on a hospital-by-hospital, unit-by-unit level. Adequate staffing levels are essential to protect patient care, as studies repeatedly show that higher staffing levels produce better patient outcomes in hospitals. Last year, amid widespread short staffing and low nurse retention, the Minnesota Department of Health reported a 33 percent increase in adverse events in Minnesota hospitals, meaning more falls, bed sores, or even death inside the place where patients go to get better.
“We are on the cusp of advancing the Keeping the Nurses at the Bedside Act further through the legislative process than it has ever been,” said Representative Sandra Feist (DFL-New Brighton), chief author of the Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act in the House. “This milestone reflects the collective understanding in the legislature that Minnesota has a nurse staffing crisis that must be urgently and decisively addressed.”
Rather than patients waiting for hours or being denied care, the compromise bill incentivizes hospitals to staff appropriately so nurses have the time and resources necessary to provide quality patient care and ensure that there are staffed beds for waiting patients to go to. Under the bill, Minnesota hospitals would receive a public grade reflecting data on patient care and whether they follow the staffing plans agreed to by the committees. The bill also includes additional nurse recruitment and retention solutions including workplace violence prevention and loan forgiveness programs. Nurses and bipartisan legislators have worked closely with hospital administrators and the Minnesota Hospital Association to ensure this bill will work for patients, nurses and hospitals across the state. The bill will now move to conference committee as the House and Senate work to reconcile the health omnibus bills.
To learn more about the Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act, click here.