FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Despite anticipated Mayo exemption, legislation will protect patient care and retain nurses at more than 90 percent of Minnesota hospitals
Nurses thank Sen. Murphy and Rep. Feist for their leadership, denounce Gov. Walz for siding with corporate bullies over patients and nurses
(St. Paul) – May 18, 2023 – A conference committee hearing today took up the bipartisan Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act, a bill to retain direct care registered nurses and provide high-quality care by allowing nurses a voice in determining the appropriate number of patients assigned to each nurse.
Unfortunately, Mayo Clinic Health System executives issued an anti-democratic ultimatum, which Governor Tim Walz accepted, to exclude Mayo patients and nurses from the better care and working conditions the new law will offer. For more than a week, MNA nurses fought hard to resist Mayo’s anti-democratic extortion, staging a sit-in at the State Capitol to call on elected officials to stand with patients and nurses, not corporate bullies. Despite this anticipated exemption for Mayo Clinic Health System facilities, the legislation will provide critical new protections to patients and nurses at more than ninety percent of Minnesota hospitals.
Below is a statement from MNA President Mary C. Turner and additional background on the Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act.
Statement from Mary C. Turner, RN, President of the Minnesota Nurses Association
“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. The Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act is a historic step forward that will give nurses a seat at the table and a voice in the process to improve staffing levels, bring nurses back to the bedside, and protect patient care throughout the state.
“Our hearts break for the nurses at Mayo Clinic Health System who will be denied a voice in the process of safe staffing by their own corporate executives. It is disheartening and disappointing that Mayo executives chose to issue an anti-democratic ultimatum and walk away from the better patient care conditions and nurse retention this bill will offer at more than ninety percent of Minnesota hospitals. To the nurses and patients at Mayo, please know: the brave nurses of MNA fought for you, while Mayo executives fought to silence, sideline, and subvert your voice, your concerns, and your wellbeing.
“Nurses denounce Governor Tim Walz for his abdication of good government and acquiescence to anti-democratic and anti-labor corporate bullies. By allowing corporate executives to dictate our public policy behind closed doors, Governor Walz has made clear to Minnesotans that their democratic process does not work for them, but for the wealthy and powerful few. One year ago, Governor Walz stood with nurses on the strike line and promised no piece of anti-labor law would ever make it past his desk. By siding with the profits and power of corporate executives over the rights and needs of patients and workers, Governor Walz has made clear he will only side with labor when corporate interests concede.
“Nurses are incredibly thankful for the strong stance of the vast majority of Minnesota legislators who opposed the extortion tactics of a multi-billion-dollar healthcare corporation, including the lead authors of this bill, Senator Erin Murphy and Representative Sandra Feist, who continue to fight hard for safe staffing and quality patient care for all Minnesotans. With the strong support of Minnesota patients and a bipartisan, pro-nurse majority in the Minnesota legislature, it is time to take bold action to hold hospital executives accountable and give nurses a voice to help improve staffing levels, bring nurses back to the bedside, and protect patient care.”
About the Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act
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, protections for nurses against retaliation by management and loan forgiveness programs.
Throughout the open and transparent legislative process, the bill was revised in compromise with state legislators, nurse advocates and hospital administrators – including representatives from the Minnesota Hospital Association and from Avera Health Marshall, CentraCare, HealthPartners Methodist, Maple Grove Hospital, Essentia, Winona Health, and Riverwood hospitals. The bill passed both bodies of the Minnesota Legislature with robust public debate before Mayo’s last-minute, anti-democratic demand to be exempt from the bill.
Despite this, patients at over ninety percent of Minnesota hospitals will benefit from the full protections of the new law to help to retain and staff enough nurses to provide the high-quality care Minnesota patients deserve. After more than fifteen years of advocacy by Minnesota nurses, this bill is a historic step forward to give nurses a voice in safe staffing levels to protect quality patient care for Minnesotans.