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Registered Nurses Take Message To Sacramento

Hundreds of registered nurses with the California Nurses Association (CNA) gathered in Sacramento on Tuesday, May 7 to meet with state legislators to urge the passage of a number of signature bills that protect the health and well-being of registered nurses, their patients and the public.

“As nurses, we take very seriously our responsibility to advocate for our patients’ safety, and we know that responsibility does not stop in our medical facilities, but must be continued in the halls of power,” said Bonnie Castillo, RN, executive director of National Nurses United (NNU) and the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC). “Our nurses see every day the pain and suffering of patients who cannot access care because their community hospital has closed. We witness safety concerns in our facilities, and we must have the protections to share those concerns confidentially with state inspectors. The best way for lawmakers to honor nurses and their work this National Nurses Week is by working to pass these bills which improve patient safety protections.”

During their lobby visits, nurses will meet with their legislators to discuss the several bills that CNA is sponsoring.

S.B. 567 Health Care First Responder Workers’ Compensation: S.B. 567 would give nurses the same protections for receiving workers’ compensation due to work related injuries that firefighters, police officers and EMTs currently enjoy. It should be noted, nurses, a mostly female workforce, face the same exposures that first responders, a predominately male workforce, face on the job. This legislation addresses one aspect of gender inequality for nurses who become injured or ill through their employment. Specifically, S.B. 567 allows nurses to get workers’ compensation for a number of illnesses that are associated with their work, including infectious diseases, cancer, musculoskeletal injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, and respiratory illness, without having to prove the injury was work related.

A.B. 1014 Hospital Closure Notification: When a hospital closes, a community loses a vital public asset. Lives are put into danger when emergency rooms are shuttered, and communities, especially seniors and low-income people, are left without access to critical medical care. Furthermore, hospital closures weaken already strained emergency response networks that are critical when natural disasters hit, such as wildfires or earthquakes. A.B. 1014 would require hospitals and health facilities to provide the public a 180-day notice before downgrading their services or closing. This will give communities a reasonable time to work towards an alternative solution to closure or negotiate a solution.

S.B. 322 Hospital Inspection Parity: Registered nurses understand they have a responsibility to advocate for their patients and to ensure they get the best care possible. In order to perform that advocacy role effectively, nurses must be able to speak freely about conditions in their hospitals and facilities. Currently, registered nurses are allowed to speak privately with inspectors from the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) about health and safety violations or concerns. S.B. 322 would afford RNs the same protections to speak privately to state hospital inspectors from the California Department of Health.

The California Nurses Association has 100,000 members statewide and is affiliated with National Nurses United, the largest and fastest growing union of RNs in the nation.