News & Events

MNA members speak out for their patients and colleagues in Washington

From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
June 2010 Edition

By Riley Ohlson
Associate Director, Legislative and Governmental Affairs

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the lead Senate sponsor of the federal safe staffing bill, spoke at the rally outside the Capitol.

While in Washington last month for the first National Staff Nurse Assembly, MNA members met with New England members of Congress to lobby for their support of two bills aimed at improving the quality of patient care and work environment in acute care hospitals.

The MNA scheduled meetings with the offices of Sens. John Kerry and Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, and with Reps. Niki Tsongas, Michael Capuano, Barney Frank, Stephen Lynch, John Tierney, Edward Markey, James McGovern, John Olver, William Delahunt and Richard Neal of Massachusetts. Over 70 MNA members participated in these meetings, sharing their experiences at the bedside and explaining how important safe RN staffing and safe patient handling are to improving the conditions and quality of care in our hospitals. An additional 30 RNs visited their congressperson to let them know they were in Washington fighting for their patients and to reinforce the message that quality patient care cannot wait.

MNA member Barbara Tiller tried to convince Senator Scott Brown to co-sponsor legislation to make patients and nurses safer in the hospital.

The two bills discussed were Safe RN Staffing (S.1031 filed by Sen. Barbara Boxer of California and HR.2273 , filed by Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois) and Safe Patient Handling (HR.2381, filed by Rep. John Conyers of New York and S.1788, filed by Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota). Safe RN staffing would ensure that nurses are assigned an appropriate number of patients so that they can provide the quality of care that each of their patients deserve. Safe patient handling would provide for equipment and training to help RNs lift and reposition patients safely and reduce workplace injuries to health care providers.

MNA members from Region 1 with Congressman John Olver.

The meetings clearly had an impact. Since May, Frank and Lynch agreed to co-sponsor both the safe RN staffing and safe patient handling bills. They join McGovern, a cosponsor of the safe RN staffing legislation, and Olver, a cosponsor of the safe patient handling legislation. The MNA had positive meetings with the rest of the delegation and is still working to get those members of Congress to co-sponsor these important bills.

MNA members (from left) Suzannah Damaa, Kate Williams, Donna Kelly Williams, Jim Winnett and Maggie Hebert with Congressman Edward Markey.

The Capitol Hill lobbying was part of the first National Staff Nurse Assembly held by National Nurses United on May 11 and 12. Nurses from around the country met to share their struggles, listen to labor and health care leaders and rally in support of RNs fighting for a fair contract at a facility in our nation’s capitol.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) speaking at the rally.

Call your congressperson and thank him or her for their support. Visit for phone numbers. If your congressperson has not yet signed on or you’d like to call your senator, you can find their number at the same Web site. Call them and explain why you support safe RN staffing and safe patient handling and ask them to join our fight to make hospitals all over the U.S. safe for our patients.