Some highlights of the Senate Hearing:
Testimony of Gerald Shea (AFL-CIO):
Simply put, understaffing is wearing down America's nurses. Martha Baker, an RN in the trauma unit from Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, puts it: Nurses are exhausted but can't fall asleep some nights because they're afraid they may have made a medical error. Yet hospitals respond by expecting the nursing staff to work longer and longer hours. Inadequate staffing is a major cause of the nursing shortage leading to a vicious cycle of cause and effect. Not only is chronic understaffing driving down the quality of care, but it is also driving nurses away from the nation's hospitals.
Testimony Dr. Julie Sochalski (UPSN):
I believe we have come to the point where there is considerable agreement about the nature of the problems facing nurses in hospitals. Consequently it's time to focus on solutions with significant agreement
among all stakeholders in these.
Testimony Sr. Rocklage (SMHS)
Today's nurses are frustrated with their work environment, especially when they spend
more time on paperwork than patient care. A recent study found that every hour of care
in the emergency department requires one hour of paperwork. Every hour of care for
surgery and acute inpatient care requires 36 minutes of paperwork and every hour of
home health care requires 48 minutes of paperwork.
Health care is not like the manufacturing industry with a carefully planned production
schedule. We never know who or how many patients will walk through our door on any
given day or night, or even at what time during the day or night. We do not know how
sick they will be or what type of service will be required. We have no control over flu
outbreaks, highway accidents or the scores of other health conditions which we attend to
on a daily basis. We also have no way of predicting when personal illness or family
emergencies may render a staff member unable to work.
Testimony Michael Elsas (PHI):
“Post-baby boom” demographics in the U.S. have created a “care gap” that will worsen over the next 30 years. If staff vacancies and turnover were the result only of our full-employment economy, the health care system could simply wait,“hoping ” for the next economic downturn. However,the number of those requiring paraprofessional care is growing,while those who traditionally
provide that care—primarily women between the ages of 25 and 54 —cannot keep pace As one dramatization of this growing mismatch between the supply and demand for direct-care services,note below that the U.S.elderly population is projected to double over the next 30 years,while the “traditional ” female caregiving population is projected to grow by only 7 percent
Interesting stuff. At the end of the testimony the Senators came in with a questioning period. Senator Hillary Clinton is there this time saying "money" is the way our society shows how it values a thing or service. Isn't that a bit of a change for Hillary. Isn't she the one a few years back that said nurses make too much? Does anyone else remember that?