Legislators hear testimony on nursing shortage
05/17/2002 08:51 AM EDT
Nurses and hospital officials agree there is a statewide nursing shortage, but they disagreed yesterday about how to solve it. At a joint legislative hearing, nurses said working conditions and the ratio of nurses to patients must improve or health care will suffer. "Industry rhetoric that we can't afford nurse-to-patient ratios and other workload standards has turned reality inside out," said Ann Twomey, president of the Health Professionals and Allied Employees union, which has lobbied the state for legislation setting nurse-to-patient ratios in all hospital departments.
Hospitals acknowledged the problem, but complained that government programs such as Medicaid did not reimburse them enough. "We simply cannot compete for nursing staff," said Paul Langevin of the Health Care Association of New Jersey.
New Jersey's shortage is more severe than the national average, with 13 percent of nursing jobs vacant, compared with 10 percent nationwide, according to Colleagues in Caring, which analyzes nursing issues.