Nurses Deliver 20,000 Signatures for Safe Patient Limits to Senator Hutchinson, Call for Action on Patient Care Crisis

| December 8, 2019

NurseOIL CITY, Pa. — A group of nurses delivered 20,000 petition signatures calling on legislators to pass safe patient limits legislation to Senator Hutchinson’s office on Wednesday.

Nurses spoke out about the importance of safe patient limits and how the current nurse staffing crisis affects patient care and asked for Sen. Hutchinson’s support.

The petition represents the largest show of nurse support for safe staffing legislation in Pennsylvania history.

“I’m hopeful that Senator Hutchinson will listen to the thousands of bedside nurses like myself speaking out. He sits on the Senate Health Committee, so he has a huge amount of power to either help move this forward or make sure it never gets a vote or hearing,” said Tina Siegel, a nurse from Tionesta.

Speaking outside Senator Hutchinson’s office, flanked by nurses holding a 12 foot banner with 20,000 signatures for safe patient limits, Shelbie Stromyer, a nurse from Oil City said “We have a patient care crisis. Our patients face increasingly unsafe staffing. Every day nurses are asked to care for more and more patients. As a result, patients get worse care, more nurses get hurt, more experienced nurses leave the bedside, there’s less nurses to train new nurses, and turnout for new nurses increases. Every day we fail to address this crisis, more patients die, who could have been saved if we had safe patient limits.”

Nurses have been speaking out and taking their patient advocacy from the bedside to the legislature, and after a few years of grassroots advocacy, the effort has gotten 24 out of 50 Senators to sign on to cosponsor Senate Bill 450 for safe patient limits in PA’s hospitals.

While the bill has gained historic levels of support, half of the Senate Health Committee members, including Senator Hutchinson, do not yet support it.

Nurses were able to meet with Senator Hutchinson’s staff in Warren, nurses in Oil City said the office staff locked the door, turned off the lights, and left out the back while the nurses were visibly standing in front to get a group photo and video before going in.

In Warren, while nurses had an engaged conversation with Sen. Hutchinson’s staff, it did not result in a commitment for Senator Hutchinson to cosponsor the legislation or hold a hearing in the Health Committee.

“I appreciate that someone from Hutchinson’s staff met with us, but it’s time to do more than just talk. 20,000 nurses across the state are standing up to say our patients are at risk because of unsafe staffing. Our patients deserve action,” said Jennifer Chase, a nurse who attended the visit to her local office in Warren.

“It’s pretty concerning that they left when they knew we were outside,” said Shelbie, who went to her local office in Oil City. “We were here to bring 800 signatures from constituents and 20,000 nurses around the state calling on him to support safe patient limits, and they knew that. I don’t understand why they would run away from that. ”

Speaking about the difference in receptions at the Warren and Oil City offices, Jennifer said, “It’s pretty confusing to hear they shut down the office in Oil City. The person we spoke to said she knew we were coming and knew nurses were coming in Oil City, too, so I’m confused about the mixed signals we’re getting.”

Senator Hutchinson declined to comment on the matter.

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