LOS ANGELES -- Members of America's largest nurse union plan to challenge the nurse-to-patient ratios proposed by the California Department of Health Services for hospitals at the state's first public hearing in Los Angeles on Friday, Nov. 15, 2002 at 9:30 a.m. in front of the State Office Building. Nurses are calling on the Department of Health Services (DHS) to protect vulnerable hospital patients from avoidable complications and death by implementing the safer ratios proposed by the SEIU Nurse Alliance.
"Safe nurse staffing ratios save lives -- but the state's proposed ratios fall short of the protections patients need," said Luisa Blue, RN, president of the SEIU Nurse Alliance of Southern California. "For California's new law to protect patients, especially children and critically ill adults, the state's proposed ratios must be strengthened."
The Los Angeles public hearing will be the first of three held throughout California over the next few weeks to determine nurse staffing levels that hospitals will be required to implement by January 2004. Earlier this year, Gov. Gray Davis and the DHS first announced the proposed nurse-to-patient ratios as required by a 1999 state law -- the first of its kind in the nation.
As a result of a statewide campaign led by the SEIU Nurse Alliance, thousands of California nurses have urged the DHS to improve the proposed nurse-patient ratios to ensure patient safety. Nurses want the ratios proposed for pediatric, medical-surgical, telemetry, step-down and psychiatric hospital units, where acutely ill patients receive care, to be strengthened.
With 110,000 nurse members, the SEIU Nurse Alliance is America's largest nurse union. It is part of the 1.5 million-member Service Employees International Union, the nation's largest and fastest-growing healthcare union.