Nurses Week 2020: Nurses Across the State Launch
#NursePlatform – The Nurse Plan for PA’s Recovery
The nation’s most trusted professionals demand the state’s recovery be guided by their experience and expertise.
Statewide Pa: On Wednesday, the first day of Nurses Week 2020, nurses from the grassroots Nurses of PA organization and Nurse Alliance of SEIU held a virtual rally to launch The Nurse Plan for Pennsylvania’s Recovery, a demand to include the expertise of nurses as we plan for Pennsylvania’s recovery.
“We were unprepared for the first wave of the pandemic. We won’t forget the people who died because those in leadership made the wrong choices, and we will not let the wrong choices be made again,” said Michelle Boyle, a nurse from Pittsburgh who emceed the rally. “Our experience, knowledge, and courage should guide every aspect of planning. Nurses’ voices are more important than ever.”
The Nurse Plan for Pennsylvania’s Recovery outlines what nurses know we need to make sure Pennsylvania’s recovery from COVID-19 does not put more lives at risk or return us to the broken system that got us here, including:
Adequate PPE now and for the future.
Widespread rapid testing and contact tracing.
Paid sick time for every essential worker.
Nurses must have a seat at every table where recovery plans are being made.
Workplace protections for nurses advocating for our patients.
Get people the healthcare they need, regardless of the money they have.
Steps to ensure things never get this bad again, including safe patient limits and a system that enables more nurses to join, and stay in, the profession.
Though the federal government had months to prepare, nurses and frontline caregivers were left without the most basic protections when cases hit. A survey by SEIU of over 1,000 nurses found an overwhelming majority report they still don’t have adequate PPE (82%), access to rapid, effective testing (85%) or adequate paid sick time policy for this moment (78%).
“The gown I was given to wear while drawing blood from a patient today was so substandard I wouldn’t even call it PPE – it was essentially Saran Wrap,” said Donna Stinson, a nurse in Allentown. “It tore twice while I put it on and tore again when I took it off. Then I was told to reuse it for a different patient. It’s ridiculous this is considered protective equipment.”
Dan Eaton, a nurse from Erie, discussed how the lack of paid sick time for nurses is further threatening the public health and making caregivers choose between working sick and providing for their families. “What’s better – Having someone on a ventilator and in the ICU because a healthcare worker was forced to go into work sick, or giving that worker two weeks off to stay home when they need to quarantine? We can do better than this.”
Coming out of Wednesday’s rally, the group is calling on every member of the General Assembly to meet with nurses to ensure they have a seat at every table where recovery plans are being made.
A recent survey of over 4,000 nurses statewide by Nurses of PA and Nurse Alliance of SEIU PA found that 85% of nurses feel that they are getting less able to affect the decisions that impact the care they can provide. In this critical time as Pennsylvania turns from flattening the curve to planning life with COVID-19 without a vaccine, nurses are saying now is a time when they most need a say in the decisions about their patients, especially as they continue working without sufficient PPE or testing.
“We understand that we need to begin to ease stay at home orders. Nurses want to do elective surgeries and we want to hug our loved ones too,” said Sue McCarthy, a nurse from Western PA. “But if we do this recklessly, guided by partisan politics instead of public health best practices, we will cause deaths and irreparable harm to many who “recover.”
Nurses on the virtual rally contacted their legislators to invite them to a Nurses Week Legislative Briefing on Thursday, where they will dive further into the plan and answer legislator’s questions. There have been 50 RSVP’s so far but nurses say that isn’t nearly enough.
“We shouldn’t have to track down our elected leaders in this moment,” continued Boyle. “The people in Harrisburg making policies during a global pandemic should be seeking us out, asking for our guidance and expertise. Being a nurse means being an advocate, and we will spend this Nurses Week doing exactly that.”
About Nurses of Pennsylvania: Nurses of Pennsylvania is a grassroots movement of over 20,000 nurses from all across PA, joining together to use our power in numbers to advocate for safe patient limits and build power to take our patient advocacy from the bedside to the legislature. To learn more, visit our website at www.nursesofpa.org.
SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania is the state’s largest and fastest-growing union of nurses and healthcare workers, uniting nearly 45,000 nurses, professional and technical employees, direct care workers, and service employees in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home and community- based services, and State facilities across the Commonwealth. SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania members are committed to improving the lives of health care workers and ensuring quality care and healthy communities for all Pennsylvanians.
Information provided to TVL by:
Sr. Communications Associate