This week, during a discussion on the Washington state Senate floor about a bill to mandate uninterrupted meal/rest breaks and overtime protection for nurses, one senator complained that small hospital nurses don’t need uninterrupted breaks because all they do anyway is play cards all day.
State Sen. Maureen Walsh, a Republican who just happens to be in favor of gay marriage, issued the remarks while trying to argue in favor of an amendment to SHB 1155 that would exempt small “critical access hospitals” that serve rural communities.
Because small “critical access hospitals,” which remain open 24/7, are the only source of medical care that is available for rural patients, requiring full breaks for their safes would be unsafe, the senator argued.
“I understand helping with employees and making sure we have rest breaks and things like that,” she said. “But I also understand that we need to care for patients first and foremost.”
“And by putting these kinds of mandates on a critical access hospital that literally serves a handful of individuals, I would submit to you, those nurses do probably get breaks. They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day, but the reality is this bill does not apply to critical access hospitals.”
While Sen. Mauree Walsh’s heart may have been in the right place, what with her concern for rural patients, Washington state’s estimated 68,657 registered nurses, as of 2016, and America’s estimated 2.86 million nurses, as of 2016, were not trying to hear any excuses or rationalizations.
“No, Senator, nurses are not sitting around playing cards. They are taking care of your neighbors, your family, your community,” the Washington State Nurses Association claimed in a statement, adding that her comments were “incredibly disrespectful and patronizing.”
National Nurses United, the largest organization of registered nurses in America, has also weighed in on the subject.
“Trust me, nurses haven’t earned the title ‘most trusted profession’ for seventeen years running by ‘playing cards’ on our shifts. WA Sen. Maureen Walsh should be ashamed to use #nurses to score cheap political points like this. #1U #nurseslife,” the group’s executive director Bonnie Castillo, tweeted.
Literally thousands of additional nurses have responded to Sen. Mauree Walsh’s post on social media. Their posts swarmed Twitter minutes after the video was posted.
An 84% majority of Americans place a “very high/high” degree of trust in nurses. Conversely, only an 8%t minority of U.S. citizen place as much trust in politicians such as Walsh.