Today in the chart

Patients Can’t Wait: Nurses Rally in Southern California to Protect Staffing Ratios

Nurses of SEIU 121RN rally for enforcement of safe patient staffing ratios. These nurses call on CDPH to penalize offenders for violating safe ratios.

We know nurses are held to ethical & legal standards; is it too much to expect that hospitals follow the law? Even in a state like California that mandates safe patient-to-nurse ratios, hospitals get away with understaffing even in the highest acuity patient care settings - with few to no repercussions.

On February 28th, SEIU 121RN nurses took a bold stance in front of St. John’s Regional Medical Center as they asked for action and accountability from the California Department of Public Health to protect safe staffing and enforce consequences for repeat offenders.

The Nursing Beat contributor and nursing journalist Sarah Warren was there to support and document their efforts.

It was a sea of purple and red, chants arose in the streets -

“Safe staffing saves lives!”

Support from the community came in the form of honking for the crowd. After rallying together in front of one of the many hospitals where these nurses work, SEIU 121RN nurses and supporters began marching to the California Department of Public Health building to ask CPDH to have the backs of nurses and patients. These nurses have sent hundreds of staffing-related complaints to CPDH but have yet to see accountability for these hospitals that willfully understaff care settings.

SEIU 121RN is calling on the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to enforce staffing ratios in California hospitals.

For years, California has been regarded as the “gold standard” for patient safety because it is the only state in the county that has mandated nurse-to-patient ratios (in acute care hospitals). California’s ratio laws went into effect in 2004. Without a doubt, the evidence holds true that staffing ratios keep patients safe.

In 2019, SEIU 121RN’s Senate Bill 227 - “Stop Repeat Offender Hospitals Bill” - was signed into law. The bill strengthened California’s existing Title 22 regulations by requiring investigations and financial penalties for hospitals that repeatedly violate safe staffing standards.

CPDH is supposed to enforce these laws and hold hospital systems accountable for maintaining safe staffing ratios. Instead, in 2020, under the Covid-19 state of emergency, the state placed the enforcement of these laws on hold. And now, three years later, hospital systems are still using the state of emergency as an excuse for willfully understaffing care settings, thereby placing patients in harm’s way.

SEIU 121RN nurses are simply asking hospitals to voluntarily adhere to safe staffing standards to benefit the patients in their communities. Patients deserve the protection of enforcement and oversight for those facilities that do not adhere to safe staffing standards.

Hospital systems have found ways to escape accountability while patients suffer the consequences due to a lack of oversight and enforcement. It is important to note how nurses are still fighting for patient safety, even in California, where nurse-to-patient ratios are supposed to be the standard.

SEIU 121RN nurses know that the time for enforcement is now. But the safety and well-being of their patients can’t wait.

Click here to sign the petition for safe staffing ratios and support SEIU 121RN in its efforts to protect safe staffing ratios in California.

Subscribe to our M-F newsletter
Thank you for subscribing! Welcome to The Nursing Beat!
Please enter your email address