Letters to the Editor
Letter To The Editor: What's Next For CA Nurses And Their Patients
Mar 27, 2005 - 7:54:00 PM


California's registered nurses recently won a well-publicized victory over Governor Schwarzenegger and the hospital owner's lobby (the California Hospital Association.) This governor, at the bidding of the hospital lobby, is trying to kill the law which would set a limit of five patients per nurse.  This is not the first time the hospital lobby has tried to manipulate regulations designed to protect patients under their care. 
Before the ratio law was enacted, hospitals were supposed to staff their wards in accordance with Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations. Title 22 mandates that each hospital has a patient classification system in place to determine how many nurses are needed on each ward based on the severity of the patients being treated there.  But, in their quest for more
and more profits, the hospital owners corrupted this system.  By tying the patient classification system to an arbitrary staffing budget, and replacing registered nurses with aides, they could make hospital staffing virtually anything they wanted.  In 1998 the California Department of Health Services found that 87% of California hospitals were out of compliance with Title 22.
The resultant severe statewide understaffing of nurses and the danger that posed to their patients motivated the California Nurses Association to push for the ratio law.  This law is so simple that no high-priced corporate lawyer could ever successfully corrupt it.  Five patients per nurse is five patients, period. 
The ratio law is incorruptible, but not bullet-proof.  That's why the hospital owner's lobby and their hired-gun governor are trying so hard to shoot it down. If the past is any indication of the future, you will soon be bombarded by propaganda from this powerful lobby and their shills trying to convince you that safe staffing will not work.  You will see letters to the editor and TV ads written by highly-paid, uncaring professionals about threatened hospital closings designed to inject cold fear deep into your heart. They will cry the loudest about the nursing shortage but will never admit that their greed caused it or that the ratio law is rapidly curing it.

And Governor Schwarzenegger, not yet used to being typecast as the "loser," will surely put the full force of state agencies to task trying to save face. The bottom line is this: Trust and support your nurses.  They care a heck of a lot more about you than the hospital owners or this self-proclaimed, "populist" governor. 


Mike Kirchubel

Fairfield, CA

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