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Maine Nurses Call on Governor Mills to Support Safe Nurse Staffing Ratios

Andy O’Brien
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On Thursday, nurses publicly called on Gov. Janet Mills to support LD 1639, a bill that would create mandated nurse-to-patient ratios based on patients’ needs in Maine’s acute-care hospitals. Nurses say the governor’s support is critical to pass the bill, now pending in the House.

At the event, nurses shared a letter in support of LD 1639 sent to Gov. Mills today, and signed by more than 500 Maine nurses, pointing out that "Understaffing is not a new issue. Hospitals intentionally understaff to maximize profits and excess revenue. ... The current staffing crisis was foreseeable and preventable. We can fix it if we act now."

"When a nurse has too many patients, we spend less time with each one," said Julianna Hansen, a registered nurse at the R6 unit at Maine Medical Center in Portland. "We’re more likely to miss warning signs for deteriorating conditions. When nurses are too busy and don’t catch those early warning signs, bad things can happen. Patients can go septic, patients can die."

Janel Crowley, chief nurse representative and neonatal ICU nurse at Maine Medical Center said, “All of us know of nursing colleagues who have left the bedside because of poor working conditions. The good news is we also know nurses who would come back to the bedside if conditions improved.”

A spokesperson from the Governor's office noted testimony provided last year indicating the administration opposes the bill citing ongoing, significant workforce challenges.

The legislation has passed the Maine Senate and is currently in the Maine House.