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MNA Convention Makes News–Nurses lobby for staff levels


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Springfield, Mass.Nurses attending the annual Massachusetts Nurses Association convention yesterday flooded state legislators with telephone calls and e-mails urging the lawmakers to support the Patient Safety Act, which is scheduled for a hearing on Beacon Hill later this month.

Nurses made the calls and sent the e-mails following a presentation at the Sheraton Springfield hotel that reviewed the scientific evidence supporting the call by many nurses to institute nurse-patient staffing levels in hospitals around the country. The presentation was made by Diana J. Mason, a nurse and editor in chief of the American Journal of Nursing.

The three-day convention, which has drawn 450 nurses from around the state, concludes today at noon. This morning’s schedule includes the presentation "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Nursing Implications," by Ron Nardi, who is director of the Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Newington, Conn.

The presentation will provide nurses with the latest information on the treatment of those who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, such as veterans of the Iraq war and victims of sexual assault and natural disasters.

David J. Schildmeier, director of public communications for the association, said this is the second time the convention has been held in Springfield since the annual gatherings began in 1907. The last time the nurses visited the city was in 1985.

"It’s been a tremendous success, a lot of energy and … great education for nurses," Schildmeier said yesterday afternoon.

For years there has been argument over nurse staffing levels, and a bill similar to the Patient Safety Act was overwhelmingly approved in the House last year but never made it out of the Legislature. Under the Patient Safety Act, the state Department of Public Health would develop minimum nurse-patient staffing standards.

The bill will be heard on Oct. 24 by the Joint Committee on Public Health.