Nurses plan protest to pressure Rapp on staffing bill

Nurses from across the state are planning a “funeral procession” Saturday in Warren designed to pressure State Rep. Kathy Rapp into moving a piece of legislation forward on hospital staffing.

The legislation is the Patient Safety Act and it would set nurse-to-patient staffing limits in hospitals.

Saturday’s event is a joint effort of Nurses of Pennsylvania and SEIU Healthcare PA.

It will start at Crescent Park and then proceed to Rapp’s office on Market Street in memory of “patients that have been lost due to Rep. Rapp’s in action on the Patient Safety Act,” according to a statement.

The groups say they presented “thousands of petitions on stretchers” to the State Capitol four years ago calling for the safe staffing standards.

“Rep. Rapp promised nurses a committee hearing on safe staffing legislation but has yet to hold one,” they claim. “Research shows that during that time, staffing standards could have helped save the lives of more than 1,000 surgical patients, not to mention similar positive impacts on other aspects of care.”

They further suggest that such regulations will “also help solve the workforce crisis by encouraging nurses to come back to the bedside.”

Rapp, chair of the House Health Committee, said in a hearing back in January that the legislation would not get out of the committee.

Legislation that proposes staffing ratios for nurses in hospitals will not be getting out of the state Health Committee.

“This is a bill that I cannot in good conscience support,” Rapp said. “In my mind, this is a contractual issue. I don’t believe legislators should really get involved with contractual issues.”

When asked about the bill on Wednesday, Rapp indicated that her position had not changed.

She said that the nursing groups have a right to hold the event Saturday but stressed that the legislation would result in the closure of rural hospitals.

She also indicated that she would not be at her office on Saturday.


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