“Overworked and overwhelmed”: Proposed bill aims to give Minnesota nurses some relief

KBJR 6 News at 6pm
Published: Feb. 3, 2022 at 7:34 PM CST
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ST. PAUL, MN -- Thursday, several Minnesota state DFL lawmakers, including Duluth’s Representative Liz Olson, introduced the “Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act.”

The bill aims to alleviate pressure on Minnesota’s nurses in several ways.

“This legislation is a significant step forward to address the shortcoming we’ve experienced in retaining nurses so our healthcare workforce is safe, sustainable and puts people before profits,” said Olson.

The legislation would require hospitals to establish dedicated committees to address staffing situations on an annual basis.

Under the bill, patients per nurse would be limited to a lower, more manageable number.

It would also establish $5 million grants to help fund recruitment and training of new staff.

According to representatives of the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA), this problem existed before the pandemic, but was only exaggerated over the last two years.

“The Pandemic has provided us valuable lessons about how the status quo isn’t working for nurses or the patients they serve,” Olson said.

Despite the recognition they’ve received during the COVID-19 pandemic, many nurses feel their long hours have left them exhausted and drained.

“Not only are we overworked and overwhelmed, we’re devastated at the impacts on our patients of the current crisis in our hospitals,” said Rebekah Nelson, a registered nurse who spoke on behalf of the MNA.

Olson believes the bill can show appreciation for frontline workers in more tangible ways.

“Nurses deserve more than our thanks or hollow lip service that puts them on a pedestal as heroes, only to demand they continue to work short staffed, with grueling hours and unacceptable patient to staff ratios,” she said.

The bill will go up for consideration during the state’s current legislative session.

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