HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Nurses are calling on state lawmakers for help, highlighting issues they said are leading to unsafe staffing decisions, workplace violence and a loss of vital care for patients.
“We are breaking these people, people who helped us all during COVID,” said Randi Weingarten, the president of the AFT union.
State Sen. Saud Anwar (D-East Hartford), who is also a physician, stood with union leaders in calling for safe patient care policy proposals.
“This is a crisis, but this is rapidly moving towards a disaster,” Anwar said. “But, this disaster is preventable.”
Health care providers said that the nurse-to-patient ratio is too high, which is leading to unsafe conditions for patients, and causing burnout among staff.
“I have been in a room doing CPR on a child who we did not get back, and then have to walk in three minutes later to a room with someone who has a sore throat, was promised ice chips, didn’t get it, who then is yelling at me calling me every name in the book,” said Sherri Dayton, a registered nurse and the vice president for AFT Health Care.
The hope is that a bill supports safe patient limits. A proposal would include concerns about mandatory overtime, which was considered by lawmakers last season.
The Connecticut Hospital Association told News 8 in a statement that staffing ratios would “exacerbate the problem, causing delays in care and raising costs with corporate nurse staffing agencies as the likely beneficiaries.” Instead, the association said, it will “work together on advancing legislative action to support recruitment, retention, and safety.”
During the news conference, union leaders accused Hartford HealthCare of putting profits over people.
“We recognize our teams have endured some of the most difficult times in health care,” MaryEllen Kosturko, the chief nursing officer of Hartford HealthCare, told News 8 in a statement. “This is why Hartford HealthCare has put in place a robust recruitment and retention strategy, which includes enhanced incentives to better support our valued colleagues.”
Kosturko said the organization as also created a 24-hour nursing peer support hotline.