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Minnesota Nurses Association: sit-in at Capitol will continue until safe staffing secured

(The Center Square) – The sit-in organized by the Minnesota Nurses Association’s will continue at the State Capitol until what MNA deems safe staffing is secured for all Minnesota patients and nurses, the association announced Friday.

The sit-in began Tuesday following actions from Mayo Clinic Health Systems, according to an association news release. They’re calling on Gov. Tim Walz and legislators to stand with patients and nurses instead of corporate health executives at Mayo Clinic Health Systems.

“Mayo executives refused to engage in the open and transparent democratic process, and they refuse to engage with legislators and the public with transparency now. If corporate executives are allowed to dictate our public policy behind closed doors, it tells Minnesotans that their democratic process does not work for them,” association president Mary Turner said in the release. “Governor Walz and legislators must stand strong against corporate bullies, and defend democracy to protect patients and retain nurses in Minnesota. All patients, at every hospital in the state, deserve safe and high-quality care from enough trained professionals. No exceptions, and no exemptions.”

Minnesota legislators are considering the Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act, to boost nurse staffing and retention by establishing committees of direct care workers and management at Minnesota hospitals. Nurse workforce committees’ duties would include resolving staffing issues from violations of the hospital’s core staffing plan. The bill would prohibit hospitals and certain other health care facilities from discharging, disciplining or threatening a nurse or reporting the nurse to the Board of Nursing solely because the nurse fails to accept an assignment of more patients when the nurse believes caring for more patients could unnecessarily endanger a patient or otherwise constitute grounds for disciplinary action by the Board of Nursing. The bill appropriates $5 million annually for the hospital nurses in a health professional education loan forgiveness program and requires hospitals update safety plans at least annually and have the plan in writing and always available to workers.

Mayo Clinic spokeswoman Kristyn Jacobson said in an emailed statement to The Center Square that Mayo Clinic has been working with policymakers for months on proposed changes to the bill that would more comprehensively address nursing shortages while supporting Mayo Clinic’s ability to fulfill its mission.

“We value input from our nurses – it is core to our staffing model. We agree our nursing staff face many challenges; however, we believe this bill does little to address the real challenge – recruitment and retention of the health care workers and staff Minnesotans need,” Jacobson said. “At the heart of this is legislation we believe will negatively impact access to care and our ability to transform health care to support our staff and meet the evolving needs of our patients. Like any responsible organization, we must evaluate the legislative and regulatory environment in the places we operate. Mayo has been working to address these concerns for months and is committed to transparently sharing the impacts of these policy decisions.”

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