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AFSCME’s Saunders: This National Nurses Week is a call to action to address severe staffing shortage

WASHINGTON — AFSCME President Lee Saunders released the following statement recognizing National Nurses Week, which is May 6-12, 2023:

“Our health care system would be nothing without the nurses who care for us every single day. During times of crisis, they are our first line of defense, braving pandemics, responding to natural disasters or simply being a shoulder to lean on during a hard time. They deserve more than a thank you for their heroism; they deserve respect.
“The COVID-19 pandemic took its toll on our hospital and public health systems. Nurses put their lives on the line, working 24/7 to deal with the surge of sick patients. Their sacrifices saved lives and helped our communities get through one of the worst moments in our history. While our economy has recovered and many feel back to normal, nurses are still picking up the pieces.
“Unrelenting staffing shortages in hospitals and public health departments are making it impossible to keep skilled and dedicated nurses on the job. Too many new graduates are immediately confronted with unsafe, grueling working conditions, and it’s driving an exodus. The nurses who stay continue to work impossibly long hours, exacting a tremendous mental and physical cost.
“Research shows that full staffing ratios for nurses would save thousands of lives each year, while also saving hospitals hundreds of millions in costs. Hiring and retaining more nurses should be a top national priority. That’s why this National Nurses Week needs to be more than a celebration; it needs to be a call to action to staff the front lines.”

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