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News » U.S. healthcare workers rally for safer staffing

U.S. healthcare workers rally for safer staffing

ILLINOIS, UNITED STATES—Unionized healthcare workers in Illinois rallied at the State Capitol, advocating for legislation to address staffing shortages and enhance hospital safety measures

The demonstration, organized by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Illinois, aimed to raise awareness about the impact of understaffing on patient care and employee well-being.

Kim Smith, a patient care technician at Northwestern Medicine, voiced concerns about the inability to provide quality care due to overwhelming patient loads. 

“When I walk into a hospital and I’m given 36 patients and I’m the only tech on that floor, there’s no way I can deliver good care,” she said. 

Legislators are considering at least two measures to improve working conditions in hospitals that have struggled with maintaining health staffing levels.

One bill would require hospitals to hire and schedule enough workers “to provide quality patient care and ensure patient safety.”  Hospitals would have to publish staffing statistics annually to show they have ample staff. 

Another bill includes establishing a “Nurse Staffing Advisory Board” and requiring hospitals to develop and submit written staffing plans to the Illinois Department of Public Health. 

The legislation aims to address the pressing issue of understaffing, which has been reported by over 70% of Chicago-area hospital workers, according to an SEIU survey. 

It also noted that over 25% of respondents reported an unsafe or unmanageable workload. It also highlighter racial disparities in healthcare access.

“Patient lives are being lost, Black and brown lives in particular. Hospital workers are being injured, especially those working in Black and brown communities,” said Anne Igoe, vice president of the Health Systems Division at SEIU Healthcare Illinois. 

Read more here.

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