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Nurses say new legislation could help solve staffing shortage

Talking Points: Nurses say new legislation could help solve staffing shortage
Talking Points: Nurses say new legislation could help solve staffing shortage 02:01

MINNEAPOLIS -- There have been concerns about nursing staffing levels at local hospitals for years. It was the main reason for a brief nursing strike last fall.

Nurses say a piece of legislation at the Capitol would make a big difference. The bill is called Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act. It's moving forward at the Capitol right now. 

Minnesota Nurses Association, the nurses' union, says it will help keep nurses from leaving the profession. The bill would create committees made up of health care workers and management to set safe staffing levels on a hospital-by-hospital, unit-by-unit basis, including a maximum limit on the number of patients that any one nurse should safely care for. Disputes would go to arbitration.

A recent study says 2,400 Minnesota nurses left their jobs last year. And it's not just here -- it's happening across the country. A national survey found more than half of all nurses are considering leaving the profession. Nurses cite staffing concerns and burnout as the major reasons. And it's coming just as aging baby boomers are leading to increased demand.

Mary Turner, the president of the nurses' union, was a guest on WCCO Sunday Morning at 10:30 a.m.   

MNA President Mary Turner talks Nurses at the Bedside bill 05:09

"This piece of legislation, I should tell you, was created by no less than 70 bedside care nurses, so this is a homegrown, grassroots legislation," Turner said. "And in creating this law, we asked nurses what are the number one reasons why nurses leave the bedside, and what would we need to bring them back."

Hospitals have expressed support for one provision of the Nurses at the Bedside bill. The bill would set aside $5 million every year for a forgiveness program for nurses' student loans. 

WCCO did invite a representative of the hospitals on. They were unable to be here. WCCO hopes to have them on next week.

You can watch WCCO Sunday morning with Esme Murphy and Joseph Dames every Sunday at 6 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

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