Addressing nurse-to-patient ratio inside hospitals

Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 6:34 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Stress, burnout and decreased quality of health care. Hospitals nationwide continue to face nursing shortages. Something the pandemic pushed into a crisis. That’s why a new proposal introduced in the House and Senate aims to tackle the issue.

“There’s a lot of things that happen when we have a patient load that is too large for us to handle,” said Carolyn Clemons. “Now it’s gone to an unsafe level where patients are at risk. We’re maximizing profits over patients.”

Carolyn Clemons is a nurse at Ascension Genesys Hospital. The proposal is a statewide mandate which would lower the nurse-to-patient ratio. Which Clemons says is needed to protect nurses and the quality of care for patients.

“With the mandated ratios, it would improve working conditions,” said Clemons. “It would improve the safety of patients, and I think it would encourage a lot of nurses to return to the field.”

On the other hand, The Michigan Health and Hospital Association says a statewide mandate would limit the patient’s access to health care. They say it would also require hospitals to hire more than 13,000 nurses.

“We believe that a one size fits all mandate on nurse staffing ratios in our hospitals, while it sounds good on the surface, it would create real challenges that our hospitals simply cannot be able to meet,” said Brian Peters.

Brian Peters works with the Michigan Health And Hospital Association. He says hospital staffing decisions should be left up to the hospitals.

“There is so much variability from one hospital to the next, even from one shift to the next, that we believe these decisions on staffing levels are best left to the local professions who have long experience,” said Peters.

Amid staffing shortages, Clemons says they always do their best to protect patients no matter the environment.

“Nurses are very nurturing people, so we take our profession personally,” said Clemons. “We always do our best and put our best foot forward. We do the most that we can in light of these harsh times that we are dealing with today.”

The Michigan Health Association says an alternative would be to target high school students and professionals considering a career change. As of Wednesday night, the proposal has not passed the senate or the house.

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