UNAC/UHCP Celebrates National Nurses Week – May 12, 2010

May 2010

National Nurses Week is a wonderful opportunity to thank nurses for their many contributions to improving the quality of health care and advancing their profession.

In celebration of National Nurses Week every year, UNAC/UHCP donates $10,000 to a charitable organization chosen by one of our affiliates on a rotating basis. In light of the catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, the UNAC/UHCP Executive Council approved an increase in the annual Nurses Week donation to $15,000, which was donated to Doctors Without Borders to support their long term Haitian relief efforts.

This Nurses Week, we would like to thank all of our Registered Nurses, Nurse Practitioners and Licensed Vocational Nurses for your dedication to providing the highest quality patient care possible and educating others on the value of having a voice in the workplace. It is through the ongoing commitment of our members that UNAC/UHCP has been able to make positive strides to improve the quality of patient care and keep good nurses at the bedside. One of these improvements was establishing nurse staffing ratios in California.

A study was recently released in April 2010 by the Health Research and Educational Trust, which confirmed the benefits of mandated nurse ratios. The study determined that the California nurse-to-patient ratio requirements are significantly associated with better patient outcomes than in other states that do not have such requirements.

Noting significantly lower patient mortality in 30-day inpatient mortality and failure-to-rescue, the study cited California's nursing ratios as producing its intended effects regarding quality of care, nurse workloads, nurse retention, and the relative attractiveness of employment in California hospitals. The ratios were also determined to reduce patient complaints, job dissatisfaction, burnout and the likelihood that RNs would seek to work elsewhere, among other positive impacts.

"The results of this study make us very proud to have fought so hard for state-mandated staffing ratios," stated Kathy J. Sackman, RN, president of UNAC/UHCP. "As a union of RNs representing RNs and other health care professionals, we know what it takes to improve the quality of patient care - more nurses at the bedside - and what it takes to keep nurses working in hospitals...the ability to deliver great care with less workload stress."

The study team, led by Linda Aiken at the University of Pennsylvania, compared survey data from a representative sample of almost 22,500 hospital staff nurses throughout California, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and also used state hospital discharge databases to determine its findings. The study reflects that, if the average nurse-to-patient ratios in the hospitals in New Jersey and Pennsylvania had been equivalent to the ratios in California, the states would have experienced 13.9% and 10.6% fewer surgical deaths during the study period, respectively.