Debate over WA nurse staffing ratios heads toward compromise

Published by THE SEATTLE TIMES on 3/4/23 (Source)

Each hospital already has its own committee tasked with planning out nurse staffing. But their recommendations are often ignored or vetoed by hospital management, according to WA Safe + Healthy, a coalition of health care unions and staffers that has long advocated for strict ratios.

Now, the state would start measuring how often hospitals are in compliance with their staffing plans, said Chelene Whiteaker, senior vice president for government affairs at the state hospital association. Under the “new concept,” Whiteaker said, when hospitals aren’t in compliance, the state departments of Health and Labor & Industries would require them to submit a corrective plan of action.

“This amended bill certainly isn’t everything caregivers need, but the inclusion of real penalties and oversight for hospitals that refuse to follow staffing plans is an important first step toward improving safety for health care workers and patients,” Faye Guenther, president of UFCW 3000, said in a statement this week.

Jack Sorensen, a WA Safe + Healthy spokesperson, said Friday that the priority for the coalition has always been making new standards enforceable. Because the new language “still ensures standards are followed,” many hospital staffers support the amended version, he added.