The first annual WSHA Hospital Advocacy Day was an amazing opportunity to see the impact that our members can have on their legislators. WSHA members spent the day advocating passionately on behalf of their organizations and communities. Over the course of the day, about 75 hospital leaders conducted 80 different legislative visits. Legislative officials representing all areas of Washington Sate heard the voices of their hospital and health system leaders and were reminded of the importance of accessible and high-quality health care for Washington residents.
The key conversation topics discussed during Hospital Advocacy Day were nurse staffing, the behavioral health care crisis and issues facing rural hospitals. We at WSHA were grateful for the chance to speak directly with our members about the impact of these issues on their hospitals, particularly nurse staffing:
“The biggest policy issue right now is a nurse staffing bill, HB 1155, that the unions are proposing. It carries a requirement for uninterrupted breaks, and the only way to get there is with prescheduled breaks,” said Olympic Medical Center CEO Eric Lewis. “On a proactive basis, WSHA’s proposing a bill that I think much better reflects ways to make sure fatigue is addressed – we limit hours and we make sure that there is a process to ensure people get their breaks…The WSHA bill would make hospitals safer and operate better.”
“We want nurses to get breaks too,” said Susan Stacey, Chief Nursing Officer at Providence Sacred Heart. “But the way the bill is structured concerns me, because it would push hospitals to mandating when a nurse takes a break, and scheduling those breaks, and I believe that could get in the way of patient care.”
“We really appreciate the fact that we have nurses, and we want to take really good care of them and make sure that they’re treated fairly,” said Three Rivers Hospital CEO Scott Graham. “But we also have to have flexibility in order to stay viable as a hospital.”
“We obviously want our nurses to be well-rested, to have breaks, to really be at their best to take care of our patients,” said EvergreenHealth Monroe Chief Medical Officer Midori Larrabee. “But there are certain times when we just need them at the bedside…We are a small hospital. We only have one physician that covers the entire inpatient wards and the ICU. We really depend on our nurses to be the eyes and ears at the bedside.”
“I’ve had staff nurses tell me that they feel very strongly that they need to be able to have some judgement over when they take their meal and rest periods,” said Legacy Salmon Creek Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer Kelly Espinoza. “I think the important thing for a nurse is that they are a professional individual who understands the needs of their patients better than anybody else. And their ability to respond to that, and our ability to support their need to take their breaks in a way that meets the needs of the patient care is why we’re here at Hospital Advocacy Day. It’s why it’s so important.”
We at WSHA believe the event had a significant impact on our legislators. Thank you to everyone who attended Hospital Advocacy Day 2019!