FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bipartisan, compromise Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act designed to protect care for all patients, at every hospital in the state, by retaining and staffing enough skilled nurses
On Friday, reporting revealed Mayo threat to withdraw billions in public investments if “blackmail” demands not met
(St. Paul) – May 8, 2023 – Nurses working for Mayo Clinic Health System today spoke out on conditions for nurses and workers at the corporate health chain to highlight the need for statewide legislation to protect patient care by retaining and staffing enough skilled nurses. One day, all of us will need hospital care, and the bipartisan compromise Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act will help ensure we receive the high-quality care we expect and deserve from enough skilled healthcare workers. But reporting last week revealed threats by Mayo Clinic Health System executives to withdraw billions in investments if their “blackmail” demands are not met to kill the legislation to retain nurses and improve staffing to protect patient care.
Mayo nurses today shared stories of their experiences working for the healthcare giant, including frequent under-staffing which puts patient care at risk. Nurses also noted the anti-worker tactics of Mayo, where executives use strong-arm tactics in negotiations and host the virulently anti-labor National Right to Work Foundation in their efforts to remove collective bargaining rights from Mayo nurses. At the same time, Mayo CEO Gianrico Farrugia took a 27 percent raise last year to now make $3.5 million in annual compensation.
In addition to their anti-worker actions and under-staffing which put patient care at risk by driving nurses away from the bedside, Mayo executives deny patients transparency when it comes to their healthcare. Recent investigations by the Rochester Post-Bulletin found Mayo was not informing patients that they qualified for charity care, instead suing them for medical bills, and recently began charging hidden “facility fees” that in some cases doubled patients’ bills.
While there are more registered nurses in Minnesota than ever before, half of all nurses are now considering leaving the profession, citing short staffing as their top concern. The bipartisan Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act is a comprehensive, compromise 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. The bill also includes additional nurse recruitment and retention solutions including workplace violence prevention and loan forgiveness programs.
Mayo executives are now attempting to gut the bill by demanding changes that would exclude nearly every hospital in the state from the bill, thus requiring no new transparency, accountability, or improved staffing from Mayo Clinic Health System or other Minnesota hospitals. While Mayo executives met with legislative and gubernatorial representatives over the weekend following the exposé of their blackmail tactics, their latest proposal restates their demand for blanket exemptions and requires no new accountability, a clear display of their bad faith bargaining and intent to kill this bill that would retain and staff nurses to protect patient care and provide transparency to the public.
Throughout the legislative session, bipartisan legislators and nurse advocates worked with the Minnesota Hospital Association and local hospital administrators – including those from Avera Health Marshall, CentraCare, HealthPartners Methodist, Maple Grove Hospital, Essentia, Winona Health, and Riverwood hospitals – to improve the bill so it works better for patients, nurses and hospitals. Despite this, Mayo executives waited until the last minute to make strong-arm threats behind closed doors rather than engage in the public legislative process.
The Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act will provide critical transparency for the public as to the care conditions they can expect in hospitals throughout Minnesota. New data released by MNA last week shows that reported cases of under staffing are on the rise in Minnesota. The report – on Concern for Safe Staffing (CFSS) forms, filed when nurses are concerned short staffing may negatively impact patient care – shows these forms grew to a total of 8,437 in 2022. In nearly 90 percent of cases, hospital managers and executives failed to adequately respond to the concerns for patient safety raised by the nurses.
Among these forms were hundreds from Mayo nurses that documented cases including:
- One Mayo nurse attempted to refuse an unsafe assignment on a pediatric unit, concerned that patient acuity was too high to give the patients the care they needed. But they were told by management that there were no other options but to take on the unsafe assignment.
- In another case, deliberate understaffing by management resulted in a baby on a CPAP breathing machine being cared for by Mayo nurses who had not been properly trained in the equipment.
- A Mayo nurse told of a shift where four behavioral health patients needed one-to-one nursing care, but the unit was too short staffed. They attempted to call a manager for help, but the first time received no answer. When the nurse called back 30 minutes later, the response they received was “OK, thanks.”
- In a Mayo emergency room, short-staffed nurses were overwhelmed by patients being boarded in the ER with no staffed beds for them to be admitted to and no extra staff to manage the emergency department.
- In another case, a patient left the Mayo emergency department without receiving care due to the severe understaffing in the unit.
- After a nurse reported unsafe staffing, one Mayo supervisor – instead of attempting to fix the problem – relentlessly followed her around to ask what she could have done differently.
- Another supervisor told nurses to take on patients not appropriate for their unit because, the manager said, “I have beds to fill.” These supervisors are telling nurses that the policy of Mayo executives is: “If we have a bed, we fill it regardless of staffing.”
- Some Mayo supervisors even encourage nurses to fill out CFSS forms because units are so understaffed, including a case where there were only three nurses for ten patients, over five of whom were critical care status.
Someday, all of us and our loved ones will need care in a hospital. When that day comes, we deserve to know our hospital will be staffed with highly skilled healthcare professionals able to provide the quality care we need and deserve. The Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act is needed now to protect care for patients and provide transparency about what they can expect when they walk into any hospital, anywhere in Minnesota – including Mayo Clinic Health System.