Ohio nurses fight for patient rights

CLEVELAND — Patients are dying because nurses are being mistreated and overworked,” stated Adrienne Zurub, a registered nurse from Cleveland, as she kicked off a June 15 rally here by the National Nurses Organizing Committee.

The NNOC is supporting a bill in the state legislature, titled the Ohio Patient Protection Act, which would raise the ratio of nurses to patients in hospitals.

“Some nurses are forced to care for as many as 13 patients at one time. We say that this just cannot be safe for patients, said Michelle Mahon. “We work with the patients, we advocate for them and we said that we cannot do an adequate job for 13 patients at one time. We need standards that establish three to four patients per nurse.”

“We have restrictions on the number of kids in a classroom, on the number of fish we can catch and on how many can ride a bus,” said Terry Gallagher, another nurse. “But there are no standards on how many patients nurses can be assigned to take care of. Our priorities are off.”

Linda Fearer of Youngstown spoke about her husband’s death, after being released prematurely from the hospital. “The nurse on duty said that there was no way that he should’ve been released, but the hospital is interested only in the bottom line, not people,” she said.

When asked by a corporate media representative whether “passing the legislation would just lead hospitals to cut other jobs,” Mahon replied. “The press should be asking hospitals what their spending priorities are. These are multi-million dollar hospitals that are providing inadequate care because they overwork and understaff but the top officials are becoming rich at our expense.”

Steve Cagan, a recent hospital patient from Cleveland, described how the overworking/understaffing of nurses affected him. “There is absolutely no shortage of nurses. There are plenty of nurses in Ohio, but they are treated miserably by hospitals and don’t stay,” he said.

“We’ll face powerful corporate opponents when this bill is introduced, and we’ll be attacked by them,” said Rhonda Risner Hanos, a registered nurse from Dayton. “Nurses will lead this fight and we’ll have powerful friends, as well.” It is expected that the Ohio Patient Protection Act will be introduced, with strong support from the AFL-CIO and others, within a month.