Events will include a candlelight vigil in Washington, D.C., to honor nurses who died of COVID-19.
National Nurses United (NNU), the nation’s largest union of RNs, is encouraging nurses nationwide to take part in actions across the country on Thursday, January 13, to demand the hospital industry invest in safe staffing, and for President Joe Biden to keep his campaign promise to protect nurses and prioritize public health.
The day of action at more than 35 locations will include a candlelight vigil in Washington, D.C., at Lafayette Square for nurses who lost their lives to COVID-19, according to a NNU press release.
Nurses are "enraged" at protections being "ripped away" from healthcare workers and the public by the Biden administration, said Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, RN, president of NNU, citing:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shortened the isolation period for nurses and other workers who have tested positive for the virus from 10 days to seven days and no longer require exposed vaccinated and boosted healthcare workers to quarantine.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announcing that it won't make permanent the emergency temporary standard (ETS) on COVID-19 that took effect in June 2021, despite skyrocketing hospitalizations from the Omicron variant.
Lack of government protections, combined with "profit-driven hospital employers which have failed to invest in safe staffing and provide critical health and safety protections" has created unsafe working conditions that are driving nurses from the profession, according to NNU.
"As we enter year three of the deadliest pandemic in our lifetimes, nurses are enraged to see that, for our government and our employers, it’s all about what’s good for business, not what’s good for public health," Triunfo-Cortez said.
"Our employers claim there is a 'nursing shortage,' and that’s why they must flout optimal isolation times, but we know there are plenty of registered nurses in this country," she said. "There is only a shortage of nurses willing to work in the unsafe conditions created by hospital employers and this government’s refusal to impose lifesaving standards."
A NNU survey conducted October to December 2021 indicated that, of the nurses who responded, 83% said at least half of their shifts were unsafely staffed, and 68% said they have considered leaving their position.
Nurses also call on the CDC to strengthen isolation guidelines for healthcare workers and the public, and on OSHA to institute a permanent COVID healthcare standard without delay.
On January 5, NNU joined leading labor organizations and unions representing the country’s nurses and healthcare workers to petition the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to order OSHA to issue a permanent standard and to retain the emergency temporary standard until the permanent standard goes into effect.
“There is only a shortage of nurses willing to work in the unsafe conditions created by hospital employers and this government’s refusal to impose lifesaving standards.”
Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, RN, president of NNU
Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.
The nation’s largest union of RNs has planned actions across the country on Thursday, January 13.
They are protesting the CDC's shortened the isolation period for healthcare workers and OSHA's refusal to make permanent the emergency temporary standard (ETS).
83% of nurses who responded to a NNU survey said at least half of their shifts were unsafely staffed.