As hospitals grapple with a staffing crisis during the omicron surge, those at the front lines are not in agreement over the proper response from the Legislature.
A bill in the House of Representatives sponsored by 44 legislators attempts to ease the burden on health workers by mandating staff-to-patient ratios.
This means that certain departments working with patients most in need would be required to have a nurse working with a set number of patients at a time. For example, when caring for trauma patients in the ER, House Bill 1868 mandates one nurse for every patient; in the ICU, it would vary between 1:1 and 1:2 depending on case severity, and in pediatric wards, it would be 1:3.
The bill also mandates that hospitals provide un-interrupted rest and meal breaks to all caregivers. Currently, exceptions to this are made for catastrophes and emergency circumstances — into which the COVID-19 pandemic falls.
The Department of Labor and Industries would be able to fine hospitals for violating these rules.
Washington Senate bill would reimburse doctors, nurse practitioners at same rate
Those writing the bill say that this is only right for health care workers, who are exhausted after two years of a pandemic.
“Health care workers have moved mountains over the last two years, but they’re burning out,” said Rep. Marcus Riccelli, the bill’s prime sponsor. “These are our heroes, but let’s remember they’re humans first, and they deserve workplace conditions that respect the work they do to help everyone.”
A plethora of health workers turned out to testify

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