Washington House Committee hears public testimony on safe staffing bill

SEATTLE, Wash. — Over 1,600 healthcare workers and patients signed in support of a bill to create new standards for safer healthcare work environments.

Washington state representatives in the House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee heard public testimony for the safe staffing bill on Wednesday. Those who testified say these staffing problems existed long before the pandemic, and conditions are harder than ever now.

“This bill is absolutely necessary if we plan to fix our healthcare system and provide adequate care to our patients,” said Maria Goodall, a vascular tech at Providence Regional Medical Center.

Both healthcare staff and patients are concerned about dangerous workloads and mandatory overtime. Half of the healthcare workers say they plan to quit within the next few years. The bill’s solution is to address the current hospital staffing crisis and implement new, safe staffing standards.

“I am scared that the staffing crisis made worse by the COVID pandemic will become our new normal if we don’t get safe staffing standards,” said Alice Westphal, a CNA at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital. “This cannot become the new normal.”

The bill is still currently in committee, and it is still unknown whether it will get passed through chambers.

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