Senate DFL Leader Melisa López Franzen Says DFL Caucus to Make Tackling State’s Hospital Nurse Staffing Shortage a Top Priority

Senate DFL Leader Melisa López Franzen said today that with Minnesota’s nursing shortage leaving nurses overworked, hospitals understaffed and patient care impacted, the DFL Caucus will make legislation to deal with the hospital nurse staffing shortage a top priority during the state legislative session, which began this week.

On Thursday, Sen. López Franzen joined Sen. Erin Murphy (Dist. 64, St. Paul) and Rep. Liz Olson (Dist. 7B, Duluth) as they announced plans to introduce the “Keeping Nurses at the Bedside” Act in both the Senate and the House.  The measure would address the hospital staffing shortage by establishing committees at every Minnesota hospital – made up of both nurses and hospital management – to set staffing levels.  It would also help reduce the number of nurses leaving the profession with provisions to recruit and retain nurses, and it would create a new student loan forgiveness program for nurses. The bill would also provide grants for hospitals to establish mental health programs for nurses and other health care professionals who continue to be stretched to the breaking point, something that has greatly accelerated during the pandemic.  

“For too long, the nursing shortage has left Minnesota nurses overworked and stretched to exhaustion, and because of it, hospitals are understaffed and patient care is being impacted.” said Senator López Franzen. “This is a crisis for our state that needs immediate action because it is driving talented nurses from the profession at the very time we need them most. Our legislation not only puts in place rules to deal with the shortage but also provides the needed resources to help recruit and retain nurses. It also funds student loan forgiveness and mental health services for nurses who have been pushed to the brink – especially during the pandemic. It will be key to our state’s effort to deal with the nursing staffing shortage and to keep talented nurses safe and on the job so patients get the quality care they deserve.”

“Minnesota’s nurses are indispensable, providing care for the critically sick and dying under soul crushing conditions. The pandemic is illuminating a staffing crisis that existed long before Covid. Nurses have warned us for years about inadequate staffing and now our system is breaking under the weight of a sustained pandemic. We can’t staff our hospitals with the national guard forever. We need to retain our nurses,” said Senator Erin Murphy, the legislation’s chief senate author.  “This legislation aims to prepare and retain nurses in direct care at the bedside. It sets better standards to ensure the safety of our patients and improves transparency about the conditions nurses face at hospitals in order to fix them. We must move this legislation forward as quickly as possible to address the critical situation facing our state.”

“Nurses put their patients first. When hospital executives value profits over people, by short-staffing and cutting corners on patient care, they put nurses in an excruciating position– forcing them to work at unsustainable levels, struggling desperately to meet their patients’ needs,” said Senator Jen McEwen, a supporter of the bill.  “The Keeping Nurses At The Bedside Act will create a system for ending short-staffing in our hospitals and will provide support for nurses to remain and to thrive in their profession. We stand by our nurses, and we must do everything we can to solve the staffing and retention crisis. We need to follow their lead, and put the wellbeing of patients, and their caregivers, first.”

“Senator Murphy’s bill to require safe staffing at hospitals is critically important for patients and the nurses who care for them,” said Senator John Marty. “To show how serious the situation is, nurses are so short-staffed that they are routinely unable to take a meal break, often eating the lunch they packed for work, in their car on the way home, because they never had time to eat it at work. The toll on nurses’ mental and physical health suffers, as does the care for their patients.”

Senator Melisa López Franzen
Melisa López Franzen represents District 49 in the southwest Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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